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Visiting Scientist Feature: Dr. Tsunemi Kubodera

Three years of planning, and multiple expeditions consisting of sitting in the dark depths of the deep sea for around eight hours, enclosed in a small submersible. It took all these extensive efforts (and more) for Dr. Tsunemi Kubodera to become the first person to photograph and capture footage of the legendary giant squid (Architeuthis dux) in its natural habitat, 900 m underwater.

When asked about his feelings upon seeing the giant squid live in front of him for the first time, Dr. Kubodera said that he remembers being really excited while viewing the giant squid in the dark through a camera monitor, and being so eager to see it for himself.

“I really wanted to see it with my own eyes (and not just through the monitor),” he said.

Thus, he asked the pilot of the submersible he was in to switch on its bright lights, despite knowing that there is a risk that the giant squid may be scared off by the lights. However, the squid did not flee, but instead continued to feed on the bait that they used to lure it in, allowing Dr. Kubodera to watch it live for a total of about 23 minutes.

Dr. Kubodera, a zoologist from the National Museum of Nature and Science, Japan, is currently here on a research visit to help identify squid beaks that were found in the stomach of our sperm whale. Over the past few days, he has been working with our Mammal Curator, Mr. Marcus Chua, to identify around 1,800 squid beaks.

Kubodera-Marcus-LKCNHM-10Mar2017

Dr. Kubodera (left) with Mr. Chua (right) in the LKCNHM research lab. Photo by Tan Heok Hui.

Over the weekend, in conjunction with the launch of our new exhibition “Out of the Water” and book “Whale out of Water”, there will be a public talk by Dr. Kubodera, where he will share his journey towards photographing and filming the giant squid. All seats have been filled as of press time.

The new exhibition features displays and stories on the giant squid, sperm whales as well as other marine creatures. The book “Whale out of Water” documents the journey we took from recovering our sperm whale, to putting her skeleton up for display in the gallery.

We look forward to seeing you here!

We also thank Dr. Kubodera for telling us interesting insights about his giant squid journey, and hope to see him again!

New LKCNHM eBook: Minnan (Hokkien) Animal Names Used in Singapore

Our museum curators, Tan Siong Kiat and Kelvin K.P. Lim have joined forces to put together a book on the Minnan (Hokkien) Animal Names Used in Singapore.

The Minnan language is a Chinese ‘dialect’ spoken in Singapore, and is generally referred to in Singapore and much of Southeast Asia as Hokkien. It was commonly used as the lingua franca among the Chinese up to the 1980s, and is still widely used by the older generation in Singapore today.

From their collective experiences, Tan and Lim (who are both formidable Hokkien speakers in the museum) have compiled a directory of animal names in the language. The book also includes a pronunciation key, and the variations of the pronunciation of the names—definitely useful when communicating with the older generation of Hokkien speakers, or in the market!

Minnan animal names used in SG

Word has it that they’ve picked up steam along the way, and are already looking at a follow up to this book.