If you should find yourself on the North Island of New Zealand, be sure to go to Te Papa, the museum of New Zealand. Right now they have an exhibition devoted to the enigmatic colossal squid! There’s lots of cool stuff on their website about the exhibition, and the build-a-squid applet is especially cute. Here’s a hard-won photo of my own elusive squid!
I’ve had the great fortune to have visited Te Papa a few years ago when I was in New Zealand. Sadly, the squid was not on display then, but I can show you a couple other cool features of the museum.
They have cool art installations. I don’t remember the artist for this one, sadly.
They have a hilarious exhibition devoted to the kākāpō, the world’s largest parrot and the bird that seems to thwart all attempts by humans to save it from extinction–that’s not entirely true, as their population is in fact steadily growing. Anyway, here’s a (dark, sorry!) photo of the sperm collecting helmet folks wore when they noticed the kākāpō was fond of mating with people’s heads as well as the robo-kākāpō they tried to get the real kākāpō to mate with. Failures, the both of them. The most effective thing to collect sperm, they’ve found, is inserting an electrode into the bird’s cloaca, and you can probably suss out the rest of that story.
Many people equate New Zealand with sheep, and indeed I did see a lot of sheep while I was there. At Te Papa you can virtually shear a sheep. I’m guessing it’s not anywhere as hard as the real thing, and it’s still really hard!
Bringing this back to mollusks, New Zealand’s other mollusk of note is the Pāua, which is the name for three abalone species native to New Zealand. Pāua are both good eatin’ and the iridescent insides of the shells are used for all sorts of traditional and contemporary arts and crafts.
Here’s the inside of the shell.
And here’s a piece of jewelry I very much covet with a Pāua cabochon.
(photo and jewelry: NoPunyNerd)