Skip to main Content

Photos: Unique X-rays bring Arctic fish to life

  • Author:
  • Updated: May 31, 2016
  • Published January 16, 2014

Filed away in a building in Gatineau, Quebec, in jars full of preserving alcohol, sits a collection of specimens that its owners believe to be the most extensive such collection in the world. The specimens of Arctic fish belong to the Canadian Museum of Nature. But because they're filed away in the museum's collection facility, they're rarely seen by anyone other than museum staff, or the rare researcher to whom the museum grants access. When those researchers get permission to take a look, they often use X-rays to get a better view of the fish specimens, because they can get information without damaging the specimen.

That gave the museum staff an idea, writes Nunavut online news outlet Nunatsiaq Online. Beginning last year, the museum began making these X-rays themselves and creating large prints of them to share with a wider audience. Once they ironed out some wrinkles -- some of the pickled fish get bent in the jars over time, for example -- they began experimenting, creating lifelike scenes with the skeletons that emerged from those X-rays.

The images they wound up with are arresting, pairing the stripped-down, monochrome world created by the X-rays with poses that suggest movement -- a Greenland halibut chasing a trio of glacier lanternfish, for instance, or the striking boa dragonfish that appears captured mid-lunge. The images went on display in a gallery at the Canadian Museum of Nature's home in Ottawa earlier this month and the exhibit will remain up through January 2015. But in case you can't travel to Ottawa, the museum has shared photographs of a few of their favorites (in the slideshow above) with Dispatch readers.

Local news matters.

Support independent, local journalism in Alaska.