Where’s the cream filling?

That’s pretty much the first question I ask myself when starting any sea beastie dissection. Sadly, I have yet to encounter a cream-filled critter, but I guess this is what happens when you shut down Hostess. Yep. I’m still bitter.

It leads to a most-intriguing second question though…If not cream filling, what IS inside the creatures of the deep?!?

Luckily, we need look no further than the new “Sea Monsters Revealed” exhibit located at Tampa’s Museum of Science and Industry.

Whale shark cream filling. Source: MOSI (with permission)

Whale shark cream filling.
Source: MOSI (with permission)

Sea Monsters Revealed uses the revolutionary polymer preservation technique commonly known as plastination to bring real sea animals onto dry land for an up-close and personal look at the most mysterious creatures the deep sea has to offer. Visitors will not only see the outside, but also the inside of the most elusive aquatic life ever discovered, including a 6-foot-wide manta ray, a 15-foot-long mako shark, a giant squid, and an 18-foot-long, 3,000 pound whale shark. All specimens in the exhibition are authentic, stunning examples of the mysteries that lie beyond our shores and have been carefully recovered in accordance with the highest animal protection standards. -MOSI

Crabs Source: MOSI (with permission)

Crabs
Source: MOSI (with permission)

They had me at manta ray insides…but if that’s not enough to do it for you, the exhibit contains 18 full specimens, over 150 smaller critters and other important beastie bits and pieces. Essentially it’s the aquatic equivalent to the world-renowned “Bodies” exhibit, but in my opinion…way cooler.

The traveling display, created by John Zaller and his crew, takes visitors not just through a salty anatomy lesson, but on an entire oceanic experience where they can “walk” on the seafloor, travel the depths of the sea in a specialized submersible, “meet” explorers and renowned ocean advocates Fabian Cousteau and Sylvia Earle, and explore “Earth’s last great frontier.”

Besides the obvious, why else is this exhibit amazing? It’s all in the subliminal messaging…

Sea Monsters Revealed explorers will re-emerge from the depths of the exhibit with a greater understanding of the world’s oceans and our relationship to them as humans. Additionally, they will learn that the health of the oceans and preservation of these beautiful species is within our control through conservation initiatives around the globe. Guests will be given the opportunity to participate in these initiatives through follow-up conversations with programs such as the NOAA Marine Sanctuaries Program. -MOSI

As a budding scientist and ocean enthusiast myself, I only hope that this exhibit will serve to educate and spark public curiosity like nothing other than a 3,000 pound whale shark can.

I know I am curious.

Sea Monsters Revealed will be on display till September 2, 2013, when I hope it makes its way over to my neck of the woods. For all the juicy, cream-filled details on tickets and such, visit mosi.org.

Source: MOSI (with permission)

Source: MOSI (with permission)

 

Alex Warneke (45 Posts)

Alex Warneke currently resides as a graduate student at San Diego State University. As a chemical ecologist, Alex’s research focuses on the effects of heavy metal pollutants on the chemical communication between organisms. In her “free time,” Alex enjoys convincing the public that Ecology is indeed sexy. With that goal, she is a strong proponent of unconventional science communication and extending the broader impacts of her research to the general public using the outlets of film and social media. When she is not busy busting a move in the cold room or filming her next rap video, she can normally be found frolicking through the California kelp forest.





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5 comments on “Where’s the cream filling?
  1. I went to body worlds a couple years ago…but this is so cool! How do you plasticize a giant squid? Is there a schedule of where it’s going?

  2. @Para_sight…I asked the lovely PR lady for a picture of the whale shark just for you =) I tried to get a picture of the giant squid for Dr. M, but as we all know…they are a bit more elusive.

    I believe this is the same process that was used from the Bodies exhibit….

    The Process of Creating Plastinates

    1. The specimen is dissected to feature specific systems and anatomical structures.
    2. The dissection is immersed in acetone to extract all bodily fluids.
    3. After dehydration, the specimen is placed in a silicone polymer bath and sealed within a vacuum chamber.
    4. Under vacuum, the acetone is displaced by the polymer, which then penetrates the specimen to the deepest cellular level.
    5. When the polymer hardens, the permanently preserved specimen, structures intact, is ready for examination and study.

    0_o Amazing.

  3. There is a plastinized giant squid in permanent display in Paris too, in the “Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle (MNHN)”. I think it was the first time the technique was used on a giant squid.

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