Five dolphin clones in the St. Catherine Chancel
Many of the large whale exhibits in the MEERESMUSEUM and OZEANEUM come from doomed wanderers into the Baltic Sea. Some of them were found a long time ago. Today, they are important as documents of earlier whale research. A rare dolphin skeleton came to the museum storeroom in 1978. The highly decomposed animal was found on the coast of Rügen.
Many other exhibits in turn were brought home by fishermen in the former East German fishing fleet and handed over to the German Oceanographic Museum, such as the pod of dolphins in the chancel of St. Catherine's Hall – a welcome gift with, however, a surprising result.
In 1970 a Common dolphin was caught off the West African coast as by-catch in a fishing net of the fishing vessel Erich Weinert. From there, it was brought to Stralsund. As dolphins usually live together in large groups of often more than 40 animals – called dolphin schools – the taxidermists at the museum did not want to display a single specimen. For that reason without further ado they proceeded to copy the dolphin several times – in a variety of poses. The five exhibition pieces shown on the chancel wall derive, therefore, from a single animal – an early form of cloning.
It remains unknown why the number five was chosen. It is also unknown whether a group of dolphins sighted in the Baltic Sea in 2008 at the time of the opening of the OZEANEUM really consisted of five animals, as was said. In Stralsund, in any case, people interpreted their emergence as a dolphin greeting to the new museum and as a good omen.