Posts tagged with formalin

Over 380,000 viewers tuned in over the past 24 hours to watch the examination of our most recent colossal squid. If you missed it, you can still watch it on YouTube here: Watch Te Papa’s colossal squid examination What did scientists find? Digested stomach contents and jelly-filled eyes might not sound exciting, but scientists were… Read more »

Formalin disposal

Preparing the pump

The formalin has been pumped out of the tank and the squid will be rinsed in fresh water before the lift on Wednesday. The specimen looks to be in good condition (considering!). The sucker rings and hooks are intact, so the buffering of the formalin solution worked well. The rip in the mantle is larger… Read more »


Glycol experiment - squid

Specimens in museum collections are usually preserved in a 70 per cent aqueous solution of ethyl alcohol or in a 2-4 per cent solution of formaldehyde (5-10 per cent formalin). The great disadvantages of ethyl alcohol are that it is flammable, it volatilizes very readily, it tends to produce precipitates from sea-water, and it causes… Read more »

The fix is in


Here we are adding formalin to the storage tank to bring the concentration up to 5%. The formalin is then buffered to stop any acidity corroding the hooks of the specimen. A plastic liner is placed over the top of the tank before the wooden lid is replaced. Finally the pH (acidity) is checked –… Read more »

Murky water


Several people have asked why the water went from a clean, clear, inviting bath to a rather horrible-looking soup over the course of the squid defrosting.    The answer is that a number of frozen fluids in the ice block were gradually released into the brine. The first unsalubrious additive was a yellow slurry of fish… Read more »

Formalin fixing


The specimen is thawed and we now have to add formalin to preserve it – as formalin is toxic the scientists have to wear full protective gear while pumping 600 litres into the tank. The smaller specimen is being preserved by injecting 3% formalin into the tissue. Once the formalin has been pumped into the… Read more »



The scientists have completed taking measurements. Olaf (above) has just been studying the caecum (gut) of the smaller colossal specimen which was thawed yesterday.  It needs to go into formalin asap so we have moved the first of the three 200 litre drums of formalin into the lab. The formalin will be injected into the… Read more »

Colossal squid defrost


We are trying to defrost the specimen – it’s proving to be a colossal headache as the central core is still a solid block of ice. (Not enough experience with cooking those Christmas turkeys among the scientists!). We are expecting some media cameras to arrive shortly, so for those of you watching online (all 2,000+)… Read more »