BOC’s cryogenic capability came to the rescue recently of a TV company searching for Great White sharks – not off Australia but off the coast of the UK.
Known as an area near the Celtic Sea, just 35 miles off the coast of the UK, a dead whale will be used as bait when it is dragged by a boat, with cameras attached to the vessel – with the aim of capturing a shark feeding on the carcass.
The whale washed up off the North Scottish coast earlier this year. Kept in storage in Shropshire, the whale was kept frozen by BOC by request of the TV company filming the experiment – which is due to air early next year.
A BOC spokesman said, “The background is that Big Wave TV Productions contacted BOC a year ago asking us to help freeze a beached whale when one becomes available. Their filming project, which is due to be aired on ITV early next year, is aimed at seeing what fish/predators will be eating the whale when it is put back into the sea.”
“BOC’s Shaun Turton was on standby waiting for a call to say that the right size of whale had beached. Shaun and his colleagues calculated how much liquid nitrogen might be required to freeze a large animal - we haven’t frozen a whale before!”
“Two cryospeed cc 2000 low pressure nitrogen vessels were topped up with product a year ago and put on standby. They were topped up again when Shaun got the call from Big Wave to say that BOC’s services were required.”
The seven-tonne humpback whale was beached in Scotland in July where Ben Fogle was filmed with it. It was then transported the storage site where the whale was partially gutted to help make it easier to freeze the body.
After gutting, the whale was loaded onto a trailer and a copper-piping framework set up around it to support cryogenic hozes - so that when the trailer was loaded into a container vehicle the LIN could be sprayed over the whale, once inside the container.
BOC sprayed the whale with 10,040 litres of LIN from over a 48-hour period. The LIN took the temperature in the container down to -135 degrees and the core temperature of the whale was brought down to -5 degrees - from 21 or 22 degrees.
When Shaun arrived at the scene the whale was already becoming ‘soft’ having been out of the water for about 48 hours. The whale was frozen so that it could be stored until Ben Fogle was available to complete the filming process.
On Thursday 20th August Ben was filmed as the whale was moved into the sea off the North Devon coast where underwater cameras will watch what happens next.