Marlene in the capital of the former GDR

Again and again, lost animals from other sea areas have found their way into the Baltic Sea, but rarely has it caused a sensation as great as in October 1965 in Stralsund. "We've got something for the doctor in the nets" was the message from the fisherman for Sonnfried Streicher. The Director of the Natural History Museum took his backpack, jumped on his moped and drove to the harbour. The backpack was not large enough ...

Only 5 kilometres from Stralsund a 2.15 metre long and 450 kilogramme Leatherback turtle found its way into the fisherman's net. The female was at that time the only known find of this kind in the Baltic Sea. The animal, which was native to tropical and subtropical waters, had severe hypothermia and could only be shown live for three days at Rostock Zoo. The carcass, together with the rather soft, leathery armour came back to Stralsund and was examined and carefully treated. The sea turtle soon turned out to be the driving force for the travelling exhibition "Animals from Distant Seas" in Berlin.

Horst Alisch, illustrator at the "Berliner Zeitung am Abend" (the Berlin Evening Post), reflected people's mood with a picture puzzle entitled "She is coming to Berlin". But instead of a Leatherback turtle, readers could see Marlene Dietrich. The film star was then expected in West Berlin at the same time. In any case, the Leatherback turtle now had its nickname and around 350,000 visitors had already come to see "Marlene" by the end of 1966. This success encouraged the museum organizers to specialise in oceanographic topics. Without "Marlene" there would perhaps be no German Oceanographic Museum in Stralsund. The 2.40 meter span of the front flippers alone encourages people to linger reverentially before the display case today.


  • Title: Extrication of the turtle from the Baltic Sea
  • Physical Location: Deutsches Meeresmuseum, Stiftung Deutsches Meeresmuseum
  • Rights: photo: G.Schultze/Archiv DMM

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