This morning Catriona and I took Pippa to Euston station for her journey back to university in Glasgow. Not wanting to miss the opportunities available in the heart of London, we discussed places that we might visit. On account of it being my birthday, I was offered the casting vote and decided that we ought to go whale watching.

“Hope” is the name given to the 22 metre blue whale skeleton displayed in the Hintze Hall of the Natural History Museum. She is a real show stopper. She was stranded in Wexford Harbour in Ireland in 1891 and was bought by the museum which was only 10 years old at that time.  She is the only whale skeleton in the world to be displayed in a diving lunge feeding position and has been the headline act here since July 2017 when this amazing display was revealed to the public for the first time.

Hope replaced “Dippy” the famous towering Diplodocus who had been centre stage for aeons but who was carefully packed up in an oversize suitcase last summer and is currently touring the UK and Northern Ireland.

I noticed that, tucked away in a little alcove under Hope´s shadow there was a preserved blue marlin, a fish made famous by Hemingway in his Old Man and the Sea. It was in an enormous glass tank of preserving fluid which made me think that Damien Hirst might have been given a job by the museum! This particular specimen was washed up on the coast of Pembrokeshire and is one of the largest of the museum´s 900,000 fish specimens.

Blue whale numbers are recovering now after the world population dwindled to an estimated 400 back in 1966. It was here in London that world agreed to protect them from commercial hunting and their number is now estimated to be 20,000.

This is why the specimen in the Hintze Hall is called hope.

Screen Shot 2018-01-04 at 22.12.19

I took a gazillion photos of Hope with my ageing phone but none do her justice as much as this one that I pinched from the Natural history Museum´s website.

Screen Shot 2018-01-04 at 22.12.45

I pinched this one too! This is the 4 metre blue marlin which is undergoing preservation. It won´t be finished for another two years! You can see that it is “anchored” in position by some wires.