Discover 20 curious creatures

Meet with the strange animals from the Museum's collection

Whether they are marine or land animals, the animal collection of the Musée de la Pêche also contributes to the enrichment of maritime heritage and allows a better understanding of the different coastal ecosystems. Discover some of these curious creatures.

Tétraodon ou poisson-ballon pintade, Arothron meleagris (1960)Musée de la Pêche

1. Unusual creatures

Arothron meleagris or guineafowl puffer.
Fish preserved in a state of inflation, which gives it the appearance of a ball. Pufferfish can fill themselves with water or air when they are stressed.

Poisson-hérisson ponctuéMusée de la Pêche

2. Chilomycterus

Chilomycterus reticulatus, spotfin porcupinefish or few-spined porcupinefish. Fish preserved in a state of inflation.

The body is covered in spines and the teeth are fused together, making it look like a beak.

This specimen was brought especially from Easter Island to be donated to the museum.

Raie transformée ou Jenny Haniver (XIXe-XXe siècles)Musée de la Pêche

3. Fiction or reality?

Created from the preserved carcass of a ray, cut and folded, this type of fake animal was generally made by mariners. The name Jenny Haniver may have come from a deformation of Jeune d'Anvers, an expression that describes North Sea mariners.

Légine, Dissostichus (2010) by Bernard BourlèsMusée de la Pêche

4. Toothfish

This cold water fish from the southern seas was fished from the 1970s onward by the Soviets. The French have been catching it near the Kerguelen and Crozet Islands since 1986.

Baudroie ou lotte, Lophius piscatorius (1984) by Bernard BourlèsMusée de la Pêche

5. Anglerfish or monkfish

Much appreciated by diners, the monkfish can be terrifying when diving, or even when displayed. This is why fishmongers sell it without its head.

To catch its prey, it uses a lure attached at the apex of its skull.

Undulate ray or painted ray by BOURLES Bernard (taxidermiste)Musée de la Pêche

6. Undulate ray or flowery ray

This beautiful ray is decorated by two patterns that resemble a flower. It therefore has been named locally as the flowery ray. Its Latin name is Raja undulata or undulate ray.

Mâchoire de requin (1961)Musée de la Pêche

7. Large specimens

Shark jaw donated to the museum in 1961, the year it was opened.

Cœlacanthe, Latimeria Chalumnae (1970)Musée de la Pêche

8. Coelacanth

This specimen was caught at a depth of about 500 feet (150 m) on March 13, 1969, at midnight, off the coast of the Comoro Islands.

Up until 1938, coelacanths were only thought to exist in a fossilized state.

Their study allows for a better understand of the evolution of these vertebrates, and they are a protected species.

Crâne de baleine bleue, Balaenoptera musculus (1961)Musée de la Pêche

9. Blue whale skull

The blue whale is a threatened species, protected since 1966. This skull was donated to the museum by the president of the Friends of the Musée de la Pêche, Marcel Chevannes, the year of the opening of the museum, in 1961. It measures 5.5 feet by 3.3 feet (1.70 x 1 m).

Fanon de baleine, From the collection of: Musée de la Pêche
Fanon de baleine, From the collection of: Musée de la Pêche
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The baleen plates on the upper jaw of the whale allow it to feed by filtering the water and retaining its small prey. In the 19th century, it was used to make umbrellas and corsets.

Lamantin, Trichechus (1967)Musée de la Pêche

10. Manatee

The manatee is a large aquatic herbivorous mammal. In the past, it was hunted for its oil and its flesh. This animal is now protected.

Tête de barracudaMusée de la Pêche

11. Bar-ra-cu-da !

The barracuda is a carnivorous fish whose lower jaw has teeth like saw blades.

The upper jaw has two rows of teeth, one row very fine and the other powerful.

Other teeth are visible on the palate on the inside of the mouth.

Guillemot de TroïlMusée de la Pêche

12.      Uria aalge or common guillemot

This bird, sometimes confused with the razorbill, is a European species which has become rare. It nests in colonies, notably in Brittany. It feeds on fish but can only carry one fish at a time in its beak.

Tortue caouanne, Caretta caretta (1964)Musée de la Pêche

13. Loggerhead turtle

In its first aquariums, the museum had turtles. Some preserved specimens were also given to the museum by individuals.

Phoque (1968)Musée de la Pêche

14. Phoca vitulina or harbor seal

Sometimes confused with the gray seal, this species can often be spotted on the coasts of the English Channel, sometimes in Brittany.

This specimen was preserved by the Natural History Museum of Nantes.

Caïman (1960)Musée de la Pêche

15. Alligator

Is this animal the one mentioned in an article in 1976? The journalist describes Cro-Cro, a seven-year-old alligator who, in his aquarium, ate 3.5 ounces (100 g) of horse meat each day.

Etude de la Mer (1914) by Mathurin Méheut (illustrateur) Maurice Pillard-Verneuil (auteur)Musée de la Pêche

Strange beauties

Details taken from Étude de la Mer: Faune et Flore de la Manche et de l’Océan, by Mathurin Méheut, 1912.

Grondin perlon, Chelidonichthys lucernac (1984)Musée de la Pêche

16. The tub gurnard 

 The tub gurnard travels, like other gurnards, on the bottom of the sea using the first three rays of its pectoral fins. The name of the species comes from the sound they emit, which sounds like a growl.

Casque rouge, Cypraecassis rufa (1969)Musée de la Pêche

17. Selfish shellfish

Two of the shells in the museum collection: the Cypraecassis rufa or red helmet shell. Since antiquity, the shell has been used to create jewelry, such as cameo brooches. The Conus textile or cloth of gold cone, a shell originating from coral reefs.

Conus textileMusée de la Pêche

The Conus textile  or cloth of gold cone, a shell originating from coral reefs.

Strombe araignée, Lambis chiragra arthritica (1969)Musée de la Pêche

18. Harpago chiragra or spider conch

A shell from the large family of true conchs, present in the Indian Ocean and Pacific Ocean.

Crachat d’amiral, étoile solaireMusée de la Pêche

19.  Crossaster or star?

Crossaster papposus, or sun star. A star with 8 to 16 arms.

EpongeMusée de la Pêche

Porifera or sponge, an animal with no nervous system.

BénitierMusée de la Pêche

20. A shell at the church

These large shells from warm waters have sometimes served as stoups for European churches.

All giant clams also have the French name bénitier to depict their use in stoups. The smallest types are still eaten in fishing locations, on shallow coral reefs.

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