A whale of a tale has unfolded in Eden.
A sperm whale skull, property of the Eden Killer Whale Museum, stolen from an outdoor block in March, has reappeared as mysteriously as it went missing.
The museum’s curator, Angela George, received a knock on the door from a police officer on 22 August.
“It was about seven in the morning – I was still in my pyjamas,” museum curator Angela George said.
“He thought he’d found the whale skull and asked me to come and have a look – I thought he must have been mistaken, but he wasn’t.”
Sitting out the front of the museum, tied to a mattress on top of a bit of fence, was the skull.
The skull weighs about a tonne, and dragging it on the fence would have meant it could be loaded and unloaded without the use of a crane – but it’s still no mean feat to move.
“It was bizarre it was taken in the first place – it has no real value except for research,” Angela said.
“The only thing we can come up with is maybe someone thought it would look nice on their front lawn. It’s a bit of an odd thing to have in your yard, but it takes all kinds!
“Maybe the fact the fine for having these sorts of things is so hefty gave them cold feet – but why go to the trouble of bringing it back?
“We’re very grateful, but driving it through a residential area, even at night, was a big risk.”
It’s not all good news, unfortunately.
The formerly pristine sperm whale skull suffered significant damage on its travels.
The long jaws have broken off, along with many smaller parts, and numerous additional cracks have formed.
Angela said she had mixed feelings when she saw the state the skull was in.
“I was gutted when I saw the state it was in, but I was rapt we had it back because it’s something that belongs to the community,” she said.
Due to the damage, the skull will no longer be useful for research but will still have value in the community museum.
It will be included as part of a proposed outdoor undercover touch area, with other bones with limited research value.
It was taken back to the museum as quickly as possible, with smaller pieces able to be moved by car.
Three larger, heavy sections required specialised equipment, and Sylvia and Mick Anderson of Anderson Cranes came to the rescue, delivering everything inside the museum by 1:30 pm.
Although it’s suffered physical damage, the skull now has a fascinating story behind it – what historians call ‘provenance’.
“It’s inexplicable, and it adds to the unique rarity of the skull, that it went on a mysterious journey and then turned up again,” Angela said.
“If anyone wants to send me an anonymous letter about the skull’s wanderings, I’d be more than happy – I’d just love to know, and I think the community would too!”