Here in Michigan, we have the world’s largest collection of dead fish. At least, the world’s largest collection that’s based at a university.
There are about 3.5 million fish in this collection. It belongs to the Museum of Zoology at the University of Michigan.
Bill Fink is the director of the Museum of Zoology and Curator of Fishes.
He’s offered to take me on a guided tour. We take the elevator to the basement... where there’s row after row of shelves full of glass jars... full of fish.
“These specimens are from Japan and they were collected in 1920s – we have specimens that are well over a hundred years old now and they look fine.”
Bill Fink says these fish have been collected from all over the world, sometimes at great risk to the scientists. He points out the box of jars from Vietnam.
“They were collecting during war, the Mekong River Survey. They were shot at and captured and escaped and there were lots of adventures.”
Bill Fink is not just the curator here... he also goes out in the field. He says some of the fish themselves are dangerous for the collectors.
“We also have a huge collection of piranhas right here...I’ve been there when people have been bitten but I personally have not been bitten. I’m really careful.”
Fink shows me some amazing fish... like the tiny anglerfish with its appendage that glows in the dark at the bottom of the ocean.