A safe and sustainable solution for the remaining flesh on Valentijn the sperm whale

Indaver's facilities in Antwerp will soon receive a very unusual delivery for waste treatment: the remaining flesh on Valentijn, the sperm whale that washed up on Koksijde thirty years ago. The skeleton is currently being exhumed ready to take its place of honour in the Fisheries Museum. By destroying the flesh, Indaver is not just protecting the environment, it is also facilitating scientific research and public education.

Making it museum-ready

Valentijn washed up onto the Sint-Adréstrand beach in Koksijde on 12 February 1989. The 17-metres-long sperm whale was a sensation that attracted over 300,000 spectators. The local council arranged for the animal to be buried at Ten Bogaerde Abbey in Koksijde. At the time, the intention was always to give Valentijn's skeleton a place in the Navigo Fisheries Museum in Oostduinkerke. A team of morphologists, archaeozoologists and veterinary pathologists from UGent (Ghent University) started Valentijn's exhumation on May 13th. It will take a week. The remains will then be cut up and soaked. Afterwards the team will reconstruct the skeleton and make it museum-ready.

Contaminated sperm-whale flesh

Based on the test exhumations and the literature, the scientific team estimates that Valentijn's remains, which were originally a colossal 50 tonnes, now weigh 6 to 8 tonnes. This doesn't just include the bones, but the remaining flesh as well. These are contaminated with sand and stones. During the maceration process, the remaining flesh will be soaked off the carcass in two tanks of 28,000 and 7,000 litres filled with a special liquid. The flesh will then have to be destroyed, but that can't be done in the usual way. Indaver can provide a safe and sustainable solution. 

Safe and sustainable destruction

Indaver specialises in the destruction of hazardous components that must not go back into the environment . It will treat the flesh that UGent removes from the carcass, at its facilities in Antwerp. Indaver uses these rotary kiln incinerators to treat industrial and hazardous waste that isn't eligible for recycling. The facility incinerates waste at high temperatures, to destroy all the hazardous components. Thus, Indaver keeps the materials and food chain clean, and is useful to the circular economy.

Making research and education possible

Within a few years, Valentijn will be given a permanent place in the Navigo Fisheries Museum. The success of this undertaking hinged on finding a safe and sustainable solution for treating the sperm whale's remaining flesh. Indaver didn't hesitate for a moment. By treating this special waste, Indaver is facilitating UGent's scientific research on the sperm whale and is thus ensuring visitors to the museum can learn about these mammals.

Share this page