Subject: Whale bone recovery

S. Jones (
Thu, 6 Aug 1998 17:03:09 -0700 (PDT)

On Fri, 31 Jul 1998, Michael D. Fox wrote:

> A friend, while diving last week here in Bermuda, found a large rib bone 
> and one verterbrate. The rib bone stands about six feet tall,  I guess 
> because I (5'10") can stand within its curvature. 
> The condition of these bones is quite remarkable to me.  I don't know much 
> about whales or bones, but they appear to be fossilised from being in the 
> soft coral sand for a very long time.
> Ccan the size of the whale be determined from this one set of bones? 
> Should we contact some for collection or just discard them?
> My friend took the trouble to cart these specimens home in his car after 
> diving and digging for a few hours.
> Michael Fox
Dear Michael,

I believe the size of a whale can be determined from the rib and
vertebrae, as well as the species.  You should report the finding to the
Southeast Fisheries Science Center, a part of the National Marine
Fisheries Service. Their web page is .  It is
illegal for U.S. residents to be in possesion of marine mammal parts
without a permit from the National Marine Fisheries Service.  However,
since the bones were found in Bermuda, it  is a different story.  In
this case, you should notify the agency, perhaps by a phone call.  Another
group to contact is the Marine Mammal Stranding Network in your area.
They deal mostly with live and dead stranded animals, but might be able to
give you some advice on what to do with your specimen.  I am sure the
Southeast Fisheries Science Center will accept the bones and be thankful.
New specimens of marine mammals are valuable and yours would be a great
contribution to science.

Bete Jones