Man and Sea

The exhibition starts with an allegory: On one side you see a coral reef untouched by man, vibrant, colourful and full of diversity – on the other side there is a reef that is damaged and sick. This is meant to illustrate the exposition’s central theme: “A healthy ocean is the precondition for life on planet earth!” The display includes the following impressive exhibits.

Three months of work and several individual work steps were put into the polar bear dermoplastic – a taxidermic technique where the skin is mounted and fastened on a plastic body that corresponds with the animal’s original size and shape. Countless needles help to keep the skin in place in order to create a lifelike image of the bear. Prior to their work, MEERESMUSEUM’s taxidermists study photos and footage of animals to be prepared. If possible, they also observe the physical characteristics, movement and behaviour of live whales, seals or other sea dwellers. In cooperation with exhibition planners it is decided how and in which setting a specimen is finally displayed.

Opahs also commonly known as moonfish stand out through their flat and almost circular body shape. Both fish displayed at MEERESMUSEUM’s St. Catherine’s hall are from the Atlantic. Grown opahs can reach a body length of up to 1.80 metres. Their appearance differs from the torpedo-like shape of other fishes. Opahs are mostly solitary animals.

From time to time, animals from other maritime regions get lost in local waters. Often sightings or findings go unnoticed by the public. In October 1965 however, a big sensation was caused when two fishermen caught a 2.15-metre-long and 450-kilogram-heavy leatherback sea turtle only 5 kilometres off Stralsund. The female has been the only documented find in the Baltic Sea so far. Leatherback sea turtles are normally native to tropical and subtropical waters. The animal showed symptoms of acute hypothermia and could be shown at Rostock Zoo for only three days before it died. Its remains and the rather soft and leathery carapace where taken back to Stralsund, examined and professionally prepared.

Reaching up to 130 centimetres of height, emperor penguins are among the tallest of all penguin species. These admirable dwellers of the Antarctic icy desert possibly go on the most dangerous and climatically extreme journey of all species. During breeding season, emperor penguins travel long distances of up to 100 kilometres between their remote breeding grounds. On their journey they have to swim through the ocean, struggle through rough and icy terrain and face snow storms and temperatures of 100° C below zero. Such a long and dangerous trip puts parents and their young to a tough test.

This unusual sea dweller exclusively lives off the Japanese coast at depths of 50 to 300 metres. With its big size and spider-like appearance it seems like a mythical creature which, if it lived on shore, would have been endangered long since. The giant crab’s rather inaccessible habitat and its less delicate meat protect it from being hunted too much. It remains unknown why these rare crustaceans reach such a considerable size which ranks them among the world’s largest articulate animals. Especially male individuals may develop a spread of 3.70 metres between their front pincer legs. Females are remarkably smaller, so MEEREMUSEUM’s exhibit is a male giant crab.