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Home News Desk Eye to eye with a giant squid

Eye to eye with a giant squid PDF Print E-mail

squid.jpgA groundbreaking new conservation technique has been used for the first time in France to preserve the remains of a rare giant squid.  Rarely ever seen, the giant squid is a deep-sea creature which can reach 13m in length.  To see a squid at all, alive or dead, is very unusual – the first video of a live giant squid was only taken in 2006 – so to meet one eye-to-eye in a museum is a rare treat indeed.  

Natural history specimens are most commonly preserved in alcohol or in formaldehyde, but the National Museum of Natural History in Paris wanted to give visitors a unique, close-up experience with Wheke, a 6.5m giant squid caught in 2000 off New Zealand.  They decided to try the plastination technique, developed by German anatomist Gunther von Hagens, who has controversially preserved and exhibited human cadavers.  The technique was carried out by Visdocta Research in Italy.  

Plastination involves replacing natural body fluids with a durable plastic resin.  It had never before been attempted on such a large invertebrate body.  It has to be done slowly, to ensure that the replacement is thorough and complete – in this case the squid was so large it took two and a half year at a cost of €60 000.  Thanks to this innovative conservation technique, Wheke now hangs from the ceiling of the Museum’s Grand Gallery of Evolution.    

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