A blue whale skeleton buried in Prince Edward Island 20 years ago will see the light of day for the first time this weekend when a team of University of British Columbia scientists exhumes its putrid remains.

The giant whale, which is as long as two school buses, washed up on shore in 1987. After it’s cleaned up, it will begin a cross-Canada trek to British Columbia where it will be put on display at UBC.

Andrew Trites, a researcher at the UBC Biodiversity Research Centre who is leading the exhumation and preparation of the skeleton, said the project is both exciting and nerve-wracking.

“Canadians are getting a front-row seat to a rarely witnessed developing story of biodiversity — how the smallest organisms have devoured the remains of the largest animal on Earth,” he said.

The dig, near the town of Tignish, will reveal the condition of the skeleton that will be the centrepiece of the Beaty Biodiversity Museum at UBC, currently under construction.

It will be the first such exhibit in Canada and one of only four blue whale skeletons on display in North America.

A team of veterinary students and pathologists from the University of Prince Edward Island will help to uncover and prepare the skeleton for transport by train to Victoria, where it will be prepared for display.

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