THE giant skull of the first fin whale ever recorded in Dorset has been preserved as part of a display in the county.

The skull, which is part of a display at the Fine Foundation Marine Centre in Kimmeridge, belongs to a juvenile fin whale washed up at Purbeck Marine Wildlife Reserve in October 2012.

Dorset Wildlife Trust marine awareness officer Julie Hatcher, who helped recover the fin whale, said: “The exhibition is a really unique way of learning more about fin whales and what more we can do to protect them. Even though our skull is that of a juvenile, its body was still nearly 14 metres in length which helps put into perspective just how big these animals are.”

She added: “Whilst it’s exciting that we can still see marine giants such as whales and dolphins here in Dorset, there was a time when they were much more common. “We believe that we could get back more of these big marine animals by protecting their important feeding and nursery grounds through a national network of Marine Conservation Zones.”

Known as the ‘greyhounds of the sea’, fin whales can swim up to 30mph in short bursts when alarmed, or at an average speed of 18mph during migration, when they cover around 90 miles per day. They are the second largest animal on the planet after the blue whale, and can measure up to 27 metres long and weigh up to 85 tonnes.