An expertly preserved Minke whale – which set the record for the first plastinated large marine mammal – is to be displayed in Edinburgh as part of the brand new Sea Creatures exhibition.
Opening at the Royal Highland Centre, Ingliston on 21 September, Sea Creatures: Life Beneath the Ocean will showcase the majestic whale alongside fifty ethically sourced, cross-sections of ocean creatures, offering visitors a never-before-seen look at their complex organs.
In May 2009, the Minke whale, known as Hai Hai - which means 'Sea Sea' in Chinese - became beached and died on Jiaoliu Island in China.
Using the same complex plastination process developed by Dr Gunther von Hagens in 1997 and made famous by Britpop artist Damien Hirst, the whale’s body was preserved - making it the first ocean mammal ever to undergo the procedure.
Hai Hai is 6.2m long, more than 3m tall and has a chest circumference of 2.55m. Weighing in at three tonnes, the operation to preserve and plastinate the specimen took the team of 35 professional anatomists a painstaking 23 months to complete.
Sea Creatures founder, Naz Kabir, says: “We’ve already had an incredible response since tickets went on sale for the exhibition, but we always said that adding Hai Hai to the exhibition would be the icing on the cake.
“Hai Hai is a celebrity in the science and marine education world, and we’re delighted to be able to bring her to Scotland later this year. Sea Creatures gives visitors the chance to learn about the animals who inhabit the same planet as us, but very rarely - if ever - cross our paths, and the chance to get up-close and hands on with these majestic creatures is sure to be an incredible experience all.”
Alongside the many full-body exhibits such as a short armed octopus and a giant squid, will be a host of smaller displays including up to 150 body parts such as the eyeball of a sea lion, the tooth of a shark and the egg of a Gentoo Penguin.
The exhibition is brought to Scotland by Culture Event Creative, in partnership with the Scottish Association for Maritime Science (SAMS) and runs from 21 September – 18 October.
Tickets now on sale at www.seacreaturestour.com. Enter the discount code EARLYBIRD20 for 20% off standard prices.