A RARE fish found off the Pembrokeshire coast is set to greet visitors to the Natural History Museum (NHM) in London.
The blue marlin, washed up on Freshwater East beach last September, is to go on show in a new public exhibition inside the building’s iconic Hintze Hall.
It’ll be displayed alongside the skeleton of a blue whale that takes the place of the Diplodocus cast that has stood in the hall for 35 years.
The decision to suspend the blue whale skeleton from the ceiling of Hintze Hall (previously Central Hall) is part of a larger plan to show new specimens in the space.
The new displays will tell the story of our connection with the natural world through the Museum’s unique collections and research.
The blue whale was chosen to give an immediate, impactful introduction that illustrates Museum research into the rich biodiversity of Earth.
Blue Marlins are seldom found in British waters and this was only the the third to be washed up in the UK, and the first full one to be recovered.
Within 24 hours of being discovered, senior fish curaor at the NHM Oliver Crimmen and James Maclaine were on their way to collect the specimen after it had been reported to the UK Cetacean Strandings Investigation Programme.
“Marlin and sailfish are the fastest swimming fish in the sea, and are formidable open ocean predators,” said Crimmen.
“They grow up to four metres in length and sport a rostrum (a beaklike projection) studded with thousands of conical teeth, which are used to slash through schools of fish and other prey.
“The movements of blue marlin in the ocean are clearly related to water temperature – warm water currents are an important factor in their distribution.
“Finding this specimen in the UK is important in the context of signals of climate change. Having this whole preserved specimen, and a confirmed, accurate record, is very valuable for the Museum’s scientists.”
When the specimen goes on display it will have been specially preserved in glycerol, which is a new preservation material for the Museum.
Blue marlin were made famous as the giant fish at the centre of Ernest Hemmingway’s ‘The Old Man and the Sea.’
It is still highly prized by fishermen and is under threat from both commercial and trophy fishing and is listed as vulnerable to extinction on the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List.
For more information on the new Hintze Hall display, visit www.nhm.ac.uk/