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Sword Lake turtle’s body to be plastinated

Update: March, 28/2016 - 09:00
Legendary: The body of the sacred turtle recently living in Hoàn Kiếm Lake will be plastinated for preservation. Photo

HÀ NỘI — The legendary turtle living in Hoàn Kiếm (Sword) Lake, which died in January, will be preserved using a plastination method, according to authorities.

Speaking at a conference, the vice director of Viet Nam National Museum of Nature, Phan Kế Long, said that plastination uses silicone or polyester and is the most advanced method in preserving animal bodies.

During the process, the turtle will have special plastics injected as replacements for fluids, which will maintain the turtle’s structure after drying. This method will allow for the preserving of the turtle’s shape, skin and bone.

Trương Xuân Lam, PhD, from the Viet Nam Academy of Science and Technology, agreed that plastination has more advantages than other means of preservation, and has been used in preserving turtle bodies at Ngọc Sơn Temple.

While the fluid-preservation method might help to maintain the originality of the specimen, it also requires additional work, since the fluid needs frequent replacing. Also, the dry method does not preserve the original form of the turtle, because its eyes and shell edge have to be replaced and periodically checked. Plastination can overcome the limitations of these two methods by preserving the originality of both shape, colour and even the most sophisticated animal parts, such as eyes or shells, which are made of cartilage.

However, he noted that plastination has only been used on a number of specimens in developed countries, due to its high expense. No specimens in Việt Nam have been preserved using plastination before, and there are few specialists in the country who are familiar with this method.

According to Long, the specialized plastic process was developed in Germany, where the manufacturer only sells the plastic formula and information about the stages of preservation. Therefore, two German specialists will have to assist if the dead body of Sword Lake’s turtle is plastinated.

Long said two German specialists are expected to arrive in Việt Nam in April to supervise the process of preserving the turtle’s body, working with experts from the Viet Nam National Museum of Nature. The specialists will first focus on shaping the turtle’s body, prior to the later stages of preservation.

“If there are no difficulties, the preservation will be completed by December”, he said.

The Sword Lake turtle has been stored in the freezing chamber at the Museum.— VNS



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