Birds at the focus of research

The collection of ​​marine and coastal birds, including several thousand collection items, is extensive and sometimes extremely valuable for scientific research. This includes nearly 6,000 eggs of native sea-birds, but also of many birds that are rare and threatened with extinction worldwide.

The bird collection itself consists of 1,600 display exhibits, 130 skins and 200 skeletons and skulls. 480 of these exhibits can be seen in the exhibitions of the German Oceanographic Museum. But it is not only the large number that is crucial for the high scientific value of the collection, but the historical age of some exhibits and thus the opportunities for comparative research. Many collection pieces date back to the 19th century. These include exhibits from almost all European bird families.

In particular, the historical exhibits provide information about the range of species from past decades. They make clear that species that have become rare today, such as the Ruff and Alpine beach runner, were frequent breeding birds on our shores a few decades ago.

There is also another example of how important such comparisons are. About 1,000 eggs that were unhatched and abandoned by the Black-headed gull were collected between the years 1960 and 1990, when the museum was the state care institution for the bird islands Oie and Kirr. This special collection points to the high variability in Black-headed gull eggs: no egg is like another.

A recent research area are blood and tissue samples for molecular genetic studies. In this area, too, the museum has a stock of 4,000 samples.


  • Title: Many pieces in the collection are from the 19th century.
  • Physical Location: Deutsches Meeresmuseum, Stiftung Deutsches Meeresmuseum
  • Rights: photo: Johannes-Maria Schlorke

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