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Digital Fish

June 8, 2006

For World Ocean Day, we report on a fish library that’s getting a high-tech makeover.


Going digital with fish. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

In museums and institutions around the world. vast collections of preserved animal specimens gather dust. But not for much longer at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, home of one of the world’s largest fish libraries. They’re embarking on a new project to scan the fish using MRI and put them online. Radiologist Larry Frank of the University of California-San Diego explains that the MRI data will allow scientists to study the specimens without ever having to cut them apart.

LARRY FRANK (University of California-San Diego):
Here is an image of a shark brain, and you can see that we’ve been able to separate all the different components. And here is the same object from a dissected specimen, so you can see they’re essentially the same.

This is especially helpful for the rare specimens that lots of people want to study but are difficult to replace.
I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.