HISTORY

ABOUT THE EXHIBITION

The deep sea is Earth’s largest reservoir of life, yet remains largely uncharted: only about five percent of the seafloor has been mapped with any reasonable degree of detail… The ocean’s depths are home to creatures as magnificent as they are strange.

Combining the latest deep-sea science with astonishing real specimens, The DEEP CHINA TOUR is an exceptional exhibition that presents the largest collection of deep-sea creatures ever displayed, along with an educational content about the oceans and our interaction with them.

The DEEP CHINA TOUR, provides visitors (from 6 to 99 years old or above!) a unique opportunity to discover the reality without the distance usually imposed by photographs and films.

INTRODUCING CLAIRE NOUVIAN

In 2001, then wildlife and scientific film director, Claire Nouvian visited the Monterey Bay aquarium in California (USA), where she saw a film with spectacular images of out-of-this-world creatures that lived to 4000 meters of depth.

Fascinated by this new world, Claire searched many documents looking for answers to her innumerable questions about the deep sea; to her dismay, there was none. With this in mind, she has collaborated with renowned international researchers to bring together the most varied and extensive bank of deep-sea images ever gathered. This tremendous work lead her to create the book THE DEEP, the first visual encyclopedia of the deep sea, as well as the exhibition THE DEEP.

Claire is an explorer of the biological limits of our planet, down to the darkest abyssal realms; and also an explorer of the human capacity to be moved by nature, which she is using to inspire people to care about the deep sea. A citizen of the world (she has lived in several countries and speaks six languages), she engages in scientific seminars and public processes about maritime policy. She gives talks worldwide.

Claire has been named the Ocean Ambassador of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). In 2005, Claire founded the non-profit organization BLOOM for the protection of the oceans and vulnerable species.

The prestigious fellowship granted to Claire Nouvian in 2012 by the Pew Fellows Program in Marine Conservation has allowed her to create a financial observatory of French fishing practices and to contribute to the development of a scientific ecology which today is still at a rather embryonic state in France and in many other countries.

INTRODUCING ANIMALS

Having access to the oceans’ depths – whether through the use of submersibles, remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) or trawling – requires exceptional means by definition: less than ten scientific submersibles in the world are capable of reaching depths of more than 1000 meters.

The specimens presented in the exhibition are extremely rare animals of which very few, if any, exist in good condition elsewhere. These fragile creatures are simply unrecognizable most of the time, as they are usually very damaged by the nets during the trawling operations that bring them up to the surface. Certain specimens in the exhibition THE DEEP CHINA TOUR have been captured in situ by the scientific samplers on submersibles or tethered robots. Others have been carefully trawled during oceanographic missions throughout the world. Visitors are thus able to discover perfectly conserved anglerfishes or the only whole colonies of deep-sea radiolarians displayed anywhere in the world, just to name but a few examples..

DISPLAY METHODOLOGY

Due to the differences in pressure, temperature, salinity, light and oxygen levels between deep and shallow waters, it is impossible for the deep fauna to survive at the surface. Deep-sea animals can therefore only be exhibited in preserved form. Generally this means conserving them in ethanol, which leads to the gradual loss of pigment, the alteration of their natural color, the dehydration of tissues and changes in their body structure.

As most of the animals have been specifically collected for this exhibition, they are “fresh”: this means they have been “fixed” and preserved with formalin and are now kept in simple water. The bulk of them have never been dipped in ethanol, which explains why most of them have kept their natural color.