The Fragility of Jellyfish

It is again time to talk about a MSc assignment – the “Research Project”. The aim of this project is the designing of a scientific poster using six photos on a topic of one’s choice. I chose jellyfish and octopodes. This might seem peculiar as Nottingham does not spring to mind as a marine life-rich area, especially when considering that the ocean is a few hours drive from here. However, my choice was based on two recent strokes of luck:

Firstly, I discovered the world of the Blaschka models of invertebrates on an outing to the Natural History Museum Wollaton Hall. These delicate glass sculptures were manufactured for museums and teaching institutions by the Czech-German father and son duo Leopold and Rudolf Blaschka between 1822 – 1895.

The second godsend was that the collection of the School of Life Sciences in Nottingham holds a number of  jellyfish and octopodes preserved in alcohol – which we may use.

Thus I was able to take photos of the glass as well as preserved specimens and am currently working on the poster, explaining why the life-like Blaschka sculptures were significant for teaching about underwater invertebrates before the time of underwater photography and film and what their advantages are compared to the preserved animals. I believe these advantages already become apparent, when looking at the photos.

Chrysaora isosceles - Compass jellyfish preserved in alcohol
Chrysaora isosceles – Compass jellyfish preserved in alcohol*

Blaschka glass model of a jellyfish (species unknown). The posture of the glass jellyfish is much more life-like compared to the preserved one.
Blaschka glass model of a jellyfish (species unknown).
The posture of the glass jellyfish is much more life-like compared to the preserved one.*

Eledone cirrhosa - Curled octopus preserved in alcohol. The pigmentation of the animal has already been slightly washed out by the alcohol.
Eledone cirrhosa – Curled octopus preserved in alcohol. The pigmentation of the animal has already been slightly washed out by the alcohol.

Blaschka glass model of a Curled octopus (Eledone cirrhosa). The colour of the animal can be seen clearly here.
Blaschka glass model of a Curled octopus (Eledone cirrhosa). The colour of the animal can be seen clearly here.

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