Queensland Museum's senior curator of vertebrates Steve Van Dyck, and collection manager Heather Janetzki work with Department of National Parks representatives to retrieve the killer whale skeletons on Fraser Island.
Queensland Museum's senior curator of vertebrates Steve Van Dyck, and collection manager Heather Janetzki work with Department of National Parks representatives to retrieve the killer whale skeletons on Fraser Island.

Killer whale tragedy near Fraser has plus for researchers

THE tragic death of two killer whales has had a positive aspect for the Queensland Museum's researchers.

The Queensland Museum is authorised to take, use and keep specimens of whales and dolphins for the state's collection if they are deemed to be significant.

Queensland Museum Network chief executive Suzanne Miller said the orcas that recently died by stranding in the Great Sandy Strait were highly significant to Queensland.

"The Queensland Museum currently has no orca skeleton in the state collection and consequently this unfortunate whale stranding presents an opportunity for the museum to acquire its first specimens to preserve as part of Queensland's biodiversity record," Professor Miller said.

"Queensland Museum's senior curator of vertebrates, Dr Steve Van Dyck, and Collection Manager Heather Janetzki recently worked with representatives from the Department of National Parks to retrieve the skeletons."

While the size of the skeletons means they may not be displayed in the Queensland Museum for some time - if at all - one of the most impressive parts, the skull, may be showcased a lot sooner if deemed appropriate.

Dr Van Dyck said the skull of a killer whale was every bit as impressive as that of a dinosaur and would be something the public would be interested in.

"In nature, death is as important as birth and our retrieval of the skeletons is everything that makes for great research.

"We now have the opportunity to expand our understanding of this species through acquiring these orca skeletons."



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