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May 2, 2010

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Specimens debut in city museum

THE Deep Exhibition was first held at the Natural History Museum in Paris from November 2007 to May 2008 and has toured throughout Europe, Asia, Africa and the Middle East.

From April 17, it started touring the science and natural history museums of China. Starting with Shanghai it will move on to Hangzhou, Beijing and Guangzhou (though plans are not yet final).

As the largest collection of deep-sea creatures ever displayed, it will combine educational material with the latest deep-sea science.

Specimens are drawn from different depths: at 200-1,000 meters is the greatest biodiversity; below 1,000 meters no sunlight can reach and slow moving creatures with long reproduction cycles can be found, often producing their own blue, yellow or red light; deeper still, complex chemicals released in the hydrothermal vents along the earth's ridges support unique life forms.

Currently only 10 scientific submersibles in the world are capable of reaching depths of more than 1,000 meters.

While humans are crushed by the increasing pressure of oceanic depths, deep-sea animals are crushed by the effects of gravity and air if they are brought to the surface. To appreciate their true delicacy, shape and color, special preservation methods have been used in the displays.

They are not preserved in ethanol which causes discoloration and wrinkling of the skin, but are instead fixed when caught with formalin and then preserved in pure water.

Rare specimens, such as a perfectly preserved female anglerfish with a tiny male attached during mating, or the only whole colonies of deep-sea radiolarians to be displayed in the world, can be seen in their original beauty.


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