The art of preserving a blue marlin | Natural History Museum

The art of preserving a blue marlin | Natural History Museum


So here we are in Hintze Hall, our newly renovated
space. On this ground floor we have ten Wonder Bays, which show the sorts of collections
that we’ve got. So on the east side we have we have extinct
specimens, and on the west side we have extant specimens
that are still in the world today. In one of the Wonder Bays we have a blue marlin
specimen, which represents our wet collections. There’s an amazing story behind how we acquired
this specimen, and it was a very complex journey to get it into the tank. The blue marlin is a species we expect to
see on the other side of the Atlantic. This is only the second blue marlin ever to visit the UK, and the first time we’ve actually been able to preserve a specimen. In September 2016 it stranded itself on a
beach in Pembrokeshire. It showcases the sort of work we do in the Museum, provides a specimen for future research and tells a very interesting current story. Today it’s come out of the freezer.
When thawing is complete we’ll be able to start making it ready for its display tank. Normally, our specimens are preserved in alcohol, but we wanted to use something that was a lot safer. So for the first time in the UK
we’re actually going to preserve the blue marlin in glycerol. Today’s our big day for moving our four-metre
marlin into Hintze Hall. It’s fragile in certain parts of the body, which we must protect during transit. So this is a crucial stage for us.
No going back now. It’s the heaviest specimen I’ve moved for
the Museum, certainly. We estimate it at about 350 kilos. So we’ve finally got the marlin above the tank.
There’s tethers at three points along the body, so this is a tense moment just to
make sure that we’re ready to immerse. From elation at the look of it going into
a tank, we’ve met a setback. [You need to come down here.] The flotation force is much greater than we
thought, the lines are stretching. So we’ve got to stabilise the fish for the night
and think again about these tethers. Initially, it was thought we could use a fluorocarbon
wire, but the marlin proved too much for that, so we’re using marine-grade stainless steel.
We then had to put weights in the tank to hold it down, and we’re gradually stepping
up the concentration of glycerol. So we just need to wait. It will get heavier, and then what it will do is equilibrate. I think it’s really been worth the effort
to get this on public display. I think this is an amazing specimen,
and people can get very close to it and see it in detail, and that’s what I think the public will really
enjoy.

100 thoughts on “The art of preserving a blue marlin | Natural History Museum

  1. people should visit the phillippines more often you can see tons of it in our deep seas specially mindanao… and you can eat and taste it…

  2. Mud to water story.

    He traveled far to be on the street of mud, and finally became a model or should I say super marlin!

  3. OMG! I love your mueseum! It has been a huge part of my life and I love it! Everyone who can't get there, try to go to both the science mueseum and the natural history. Last time I went Dippy (that's the affectionate name for the diplodocus dinosaur) was on tour. I really advise going.

  4. I wish I could there! I'm so intrested in History, animals And the fact to see real things, anything, that lived so long back. Even modern things like that Marlin that I don't get to see.

  5. Blue Marlin still exist….so why not get a better specimen? I've had better looking fish come out of my home freezer.

  6. I'll come one's you've got Jacob Rees-Mogg, Nigel Farage and Boris Johnson preserved on the East-side of the Natural History Museum. Sure, i'll have a look at the Blue Marlin on the other side of the Museum too.

  7. They really couldn't get a freshly caught specimen instead of what ever they could find washed up on a beach. To put that in a museum is sad I've seen 150 year old coelacanths that look better than that.

  8. so let me get this straight: there is a rotten fish in a tank in a museum for future display? that thing looks horrible.

  9. Its a shame that the real people doing the actually work (in this case bring the fish there, building the tank, and installing it) are forgotten and instead you just get these random people who know nothing and did nothing talking like they accomplished some great task just because they wrote a check to hire people.

  10. I saw this in person a couple months ago, it looks like an absolute beast ngl, coolest fish I’ve ever seen

  11. I wish the fish could've been preserved in the color it bore in life, but such is not the nature of a wet specimen (or any kind of nonliving fish specimen… they break down really quickly).

  12. On BBC Earth Unplugged the curator’s name was Ollie Crimmen. Now it’s Oliver Crimmen. Identity change? Illuminati confirmed.

  13. I totally appreciate the tremendous effort your guys put into it.
    But for all that effort it looks rather manky and it’s not blue it’s s rotten fish took to long to get into preservation .
    Get one done through taxidermy and paint it in it’s true natural glory trust it’s breath taking . But real dead meat attracts customers aswell 😉.

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