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Subject: Whale bone

Whale bone

From: Sally Shelton <libsdnhm>
Date: Thursday, August 31, 1995
    **** Moderator's comments: See my previous message in this
    thread. I, not the author, was responsible for the subject
    heading "Baleen", which has been retroactively changed to "Whale

Re Carol Brown's posting on the conservation of whale material to be
displayed outside: it would really help if it could be made clear
whether the specimen is baleen (as was indicated in the header) or
true bone (as seems to be indicated by the phrase "jaw bone"). The
misleading use of the term "whalebone" to indicate baleen is
probably responsible for many instances of this type of confusion.
Neither, alas, will do well on outdoor exhibition, but the true bone
will last longer than baleen, which is a keratinaceous structure and
not bone at all. There are a couple of published articles on the
conservation of baleen and several on the conservation of bone.
Whale bone--OK, skeletal material--is very high in oil and difficult
to conserve under the best of conditions. Baleen is even more so.

At the moment I am advising a science center in Ensenada, Baja
California Norte, which is asking roughly the same question. Their
whale skeleton is a beach specimen and is extremely punky from
exposure and loss of oils. They own it legally and can do what they
like, but have no room to exhibit it other than outdoors. We are
experimenting with consolidants and sealants to try to make the
specimen last as long as possible, accepting that these are very
poor conditions for preservation. I can send details if you're
interested. Their baleen is exhibited indoors. (My, I do hope that
you're not really exhibiting baleen outdoors.....)

Sally Shelton
Director, Collections Care and Conservation
San Diego Natural History Museum
P.O. Box 1390
San Diego, California  92112
Fax: 619-232-0248

                  Conservation DistList Instance 9:21
                Distributed: Saturday, September 2, 1995
                        Message Id: cdl-9-21-003
Received on Thursday, 31 August, 1995

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