It's Taking More than Two Months to Preserve this 400-Pound Whale Heart

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It's Taking More than Two Months to Preserve this 400-Pound Whale Heart

The largest heart on Earth.
August 25, 2015, 10:00am

Earlier this summer, we wrote about the Royal Ontario Museum's mission to preserve the recovered heart of a blue whale—the largest animal on the planet. As this video from PBS shows, the process is still underway over two months later.

Jacqueline Miller, the museum's Mammalogy Technician, is hard at work preserving the heart. "It took about four of us to push the heart out through a window that we made between the ribs and the side of the chest cavity," she says. The heart weighs about 400 pounds and pumps 220 liters of blood per beat, and is now being stored in a massive custom-made 1,000 gallon tank of formalin, which Miller wades around in as she shows us the massive specimen.

The heart was recovered when two whale carcasses washed ashore in Newfoundland, and there researchers began the process of freezing, defrosting, and reinflation of the heart. Now it awaits plastination, to make it suitable for display. The blue whale "still holds anatomical secrets from us," says Miller. Here's to one less.