Whales and Dolphins

In the choir of St. Catherine’s hall visitors stand under the 15-metre-long skeleton of a fin whale that was salvaged off Hiddensee in 1825. A bottlenose whale whose skeleton is also displayed in the hall

Many of the former to present sightings of whales in the Baltic Sea that have been documented by the German Marine Museum also involved sightings of dolphins. Two displayed white-beaked dolphin skeletons originate from the 1990s. The specimen shown in MEERESMUSEUM’s dolphin showcase was discovered off Neuendorf on Hiddensee in 1975. It was a 2.70-metre-long and 200-kilogram-heavy female. Due to progressed decay, the carcass had to be dissected on site. Only a few days before, presumably the same dolphin had been sighted in the Strelasund where it jumped out of the water several times. Taxidermists of the museum recreated the animal for display purposes. The original skeleton and an ordinary dolphin “swim” beside the copy for comparison. The cross section of a porpoise gives a view into the insides of these marine mammals.

The historical fin whale skeleton shown in the choir of St. Catherine’s hall and the whale’s giant organs displayed in the showcase below seem like a logic set. Although all exhibits originate from the same fin whale that stranded off Rügen’s west coast in 1825, their collective presentation is not self-evident.  Skeleton and insides had gone on a long and confusing odyssey until they, thanks to lucky circumstances, got together again at the German Marine Museum. It was not before 1978 that some of the fin whale’s organs – its penis, trachea and aortic arch – reached Stralsund through scientific exchange. It was during that time that the museum reorganized its profile converting from a natural history museum to a marine museum. Collections no longer needed were traded for oceanographic exhibits.