- Digital Scholarship
What is Quasimodo?
Quasimodo is the skeleton of a 37-foot male humpback whale that was found dead along the island known as Noman’s Land, off the southern coast of Martha’s Vineyard. He died in 1932 and has been hanging in the Museum since 1936. He originally hung next to the Lagoda in the Bourne Building and then was moved into the Jacobs Family Gallery when it opened in 2000.
How He Got Here
Quasimodo was towed ashore in Westport, MA, stripped and buried in the sand as a way to clean the bones. To check on the progress of this cleaning process, the bones were unburied and reburied twice.
Preparation and Display
Once the bones were cleaned, they were placed on the roof of the Museum for drying and bleaching by the sun. After three years the bones were assembled and displayed. Quasi has been moved and reposed three times as the layout of the Museum has changed.
Female humpbacks give birth to a single calf every 2-3 years. When born, the calf is about 14 feet long and weighs between 1 and 2 tons. Most populations of humpbacks follow a regular migration route summering in polar waters for feeding, and wintering in tropical waters for mating and calving.
Their feeding and mating grounds are close to shore. Because they are slow swimmers, humpback whales were an easy target for whalers. Their populations have recovered slowly since they received protection in 1966 and again in 1985. Humpbacks are the most acrobatic of whales and are commonly seen on local whale watch trips. Their antics include breaching, lob tailing, spy hopping, and flipper waving.