Sixteen visitors from China were at the Museum recently. The group were visiting as part of a Chinese reality TV show production, Junior Edison which is screened to over 20 million people across China.
Students from the 2nd to 11th grade appear as contestants on the TV show where they present their inventions. The Shanghai Media Group, a Chinese multimedia, television and radio broadcasting, news, and internet company was filming their movement while in Launceston.
The group began their tour at the Van Diemen Aquaculture fish farm in Rowella, followed by a fish dissection in the Museum’s Natural Sciences Laboratory with Natural Sciences Curator David Maynard.
Van Diemen Aquaculture (VDA) is located on the Tamar River estuary and produces high quality Atlantic salmon for Petuna Seafoods. Petuna value add the farmed product at their Devonport facility, producing smoked and fresh products for the Australian and overseas markets. Each year VDA produces 2500 tonnes of salmon.
General Manager, Dianne Maynard, showed the Junior Edison group around the sea farm. First up, safety briefing.
The tour begins with the feed shed. Each year VDA feed out about $7M of high quality pellets. In winter the fish receive 15 tonnes of food per day (that’s $30 000 each day!).
Fish feed is a science in itself. Here the students are talked through the basic recipe. 75% of the feed is fish meal sourced from across the globe. The remaining 25% comprises, soy extracts, fish oils, colours and vitamins.
The seals, resting on the cage in the background of the image, were a big hit with the students. Seals may be cute but they are a nuisance to fish farmers, causing considerable damage to the cages, eating lots of salmon and posing a direct danger to the crew. However, these seals were too busy basking and frolicking to be a danger.
The students assisted in catching a small crowd of fish from the 20 000 fish in the cage. About two dozen salmon can be seen schooling in the bottom left of the image.
The farm manager holding the lucky winner! This Atlantic salmon is about 14 months old and weighs about 4 kg. Don’t feel bad for the fish, she put up a good fight.
The fish was quickly processed and placed on ice. The students were very impressed with the farm, the process and the fresh product. This one is off to the Queen Victoria Museum Natural Sciences laboratory to be dissected.
When the students arrived at the Museum they were shown through the Tasmanian Connections exhibition space. They were very interested in Tasmania’s fauna, particularly this case of animals only found in Tasmania.
The Chinese love Tasmania lobsters; 90% of Tasmanian commercial catch goes direct to China. So, it was fitting to dissect a lobster as well as the salmon.
The first incision caused a bit of a stir, but this group of students are interested in marine biology so they are getting all the gory details.
Part of the carapace is removed, exposing the gills and digestive gland.
The students were very interested in the dissection process and internal biology. Much of what was done was recorded on their personal electronic devices.
The part everyone was waiting for, the tail, or more correctly the tail meat!
After exploring the structure of the tail musculature and digestive tract it was removed and diced.
The host of the game show that is being filmed, Victor, was presented with sashimi lobster.
Victors face says it all. Tasmanian lobster is a delicacy that many cannot afford to eat. The students and their entourage made the most of this special opportunity.
To finish the tour, Chef Rupert Sadler, had prepared beautifully presented and amazingly flavoured salmon and lobster tasters. This was the quietest the students had been all day. The group were sending photographs of these delicacies back to their family in China between mouthfuls!