Shanghai Fisheries University opened its new Whale Museum yesterday, showing off the remains of a sperm whale that died last May after getting caught up in fishing net in the Qiongzhou Strait near southwestern China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region.
The two-story exhibition hall, which is located on the university's campus in Shanghai's northeastern Yangpu District, displays the stuffed skin of the whale and a complete skeleton suspended from the ceiling. Each is one-and-a-half stories high and two-thirds the length of a basketball court.
"All of the specimens were made of real parts taken from the sperm whale except the teeth, which were made artificially," said Zhou Yingqi, president of the university. "We display it in order to let more people learn about the mammal and call on people to protect endangered species."
It took experts more than a year to assemble more than 300 bones, weighing about three tons, into a complete skeleton, which has been covered with a protective layer of oil to prevent damage caused by dirt.
The university reportedly spent 4 million yuan (US$481,000) to buy the remains, transport them to Shanghai and prepare them for display.
The museum also houses pictures and information about other whale species.
There are an estimated 1.9 million sperm whales living in the world, but recent years have seen an increase in the number of animals stranded in shallow water. While experts debate the reason for the increase, many think it is due to the pollution in the ocean.
(eastday.com October 29, 2002)