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Old 09-21-2018, 11:27 PM   #1
The future is unwritten
Join Date: Oct 2002
Posts: 64,265
Sept 22nd, 2018: Fish Bunker

A little south of New Orleans there are concrete bunkers built during WW II for Navy artillery storage.
Now two of them hold 7 million dead preserved fish, the Royal D. Suttkus Fish Collection.
This largest collection in the world, is under the care of Tulane Biodiversity Research Institute.

It is a small room, maybe the size of a car, but it is the most important room of the institution because it’s where the holotypes and paratypes are kept. “These are the most important specimens because they bear the names, so if there’s any doubt about what a species is, these are what you consult,” Bart says. Here is the famous pocket shark, a small deep-water marine shark found just a few years ago in the Gulf of Mexico—only the second one known to exist in the world. Here is a harelip sucker collected in 1893. It’s been extinct since that year. The tail fins have eroded off, and I can see its brain. Here is the oldest fish in the collection—a shiny minnow collected in Italy in 1838.

The Royal D. Suttkus Fish Collection was founded in 1950 when the legendary ichthyologist Royal D. Suttkus, who had a hand in collecting over five million of the collection’s fish, joined the faculty at Tulane. The collection was originally housed on the university’s main campus, but by 1968, it had outgrown its space and was moved to its current bunker-home in Belle Chasse, Louisiana.

In the ichthyology world, the Suttkus Collection is a vital resource. Each year, Bart and his team mail hundreds of preserved fish to ichthyologists around the world, and scientists travel to New Orleans to research the larger fish in person. These researchers are examining relationships between species and discovering new ones, learning new information about the deepest parts of the ocean, and studying the effects of global warming. “Essentially, we are the holders of history,” explains Justin Mann, the collections manager.

In the bunker that holds the large fish, Mann warns me to stand back before opening a tank the size of a truck bed. The evaporated alcohol from the isopropyl that preserves the fish collects at the top of the tank, and the smell is nearly suffocating at first. Creatures far larger than human bodies lie on top of one another inside.
Kind of like the front door of a frat house on Sunday morning.

Everything is interesting... look closer.
xoxoxoBruce is offline   Reply With Quote