On a hot late summer’s day, three years after we had gathered to bury the jawbones and vertebra of the Fin Whale recovered by Roger Radcliffe and a team of helpers from a cove close to Porthtowan Beach in February 2010, almost the same group met in a St Agnes field to exhume the bones, thanks to the generosity of Ben Lockley of B Lockley Groundworks and his mini digger.
Fortunately we remembered accurately where the five metre long, immensely heavy jawbones had been buried, and after a few anxious moments, their outline became visible in the excavated trench, stained a mahogany brown due to their contact with the soil and the three tonnes of horse manure whose microbes, it had been hoped, would cleanse the bones’ interiors. The bones were carefully lifted from the trench and laid on the grass to be washed off.
Almost immediately buzzards began circling overhead, attracted by the fishy smell still being given off by the bones.
The Museum now has to decide whether the bones need to be reburied, or whether they can continue their drying out process in the open air. As no-one else has attempted to treat such massive jaw bones before, there is no agreement as to how long it will take. It is a matter of trial and error.
Eventually the bones will join the leatherback turtle and trigger fish in the Museum to show visitors the size and feeding habits of this giant creature.