Harp seal looking for food

German Oceanographic Museum, Foundation German Oceanographic Museum

German Oceanographic Museum, Foundation German Oceanographic Museum

From the Arctic Ocean to the OCEANOGRAPHIC MUSEUM

The history of some of the large animal exhibits in the cases of the OCEANOGRAPHIC MUSEUM reads as being quite adventurous and riddled with obstacles. When visitors are admiring the impressive models, it is rarely obvious what strange problems can occur in these cases. The journey from where it is found to the Museum alone is often a difficult and thorny path through the bureaucratic jungle of numerous authorities. Even if this appears to have been sorted out, the question of how a large, dead animal body can be transported can always cause problems.

Illustrative examples of successful scientific cooperation can be seen in the case of the two Harp seals in the seal case. The young animal with the white coat was found in March 1993 on the ice of the White Sea. The Russian scientist Yuri Timoschenko separated the body and the coat in the Laboratory for Marine Mammals in Arkhangelsk and preserved it in salt. At his request, the Stralsund Museum expressed an interest in exhibiting it. In August the museum staff member Elisabeth Wendling was able to bring the 91 cm-long seal skin and the head of the young seal by plane via Kaliningrad to Poland. At the border crossing at Pomellen, the animal remains finally reached Germany and the Museum. Here it was skilfully prepared as dermoplastic and now can be seen in the "Seals in Danger" display case.

The route and history of the model of the older animal are, however, decidedly shorter. In the 80's it arrived as by-catch in a net of the former GDR Fishing Combine in Rostock. An observant fishermen brought the dead animal deep-frozen from the Arctic Ocean to the Museum.

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  • Title: Harp seal looking for food
  • Location: Deutsches Meeresmuseum, Stiftung Deutsches Meeresmuseum
  • Rights: photo: Johannes-Maria Schlorke