Saturday, December 22, 2007

Wined and dined, or eating fish with fish and fishermen

One of the fun things about tagging along for events like the Hampiðjan workshop is that when people travel for conferences, etc. they usually have some sort of fancy dinner that I end up being invited along to – and if I learned anything as a college student, it was to never turn down free food. Plus, I’m sure experiencing fancy fisheries dinners (and the chance to talk with people over the meal) is an important part of my project. After the first night of the workshop, everyone was invited to dinner in the aquarium, right in front of the largest fish tank in northern Europe.

(This picture is from one of the regular daily presentations for visitors at the tank. Note the ridiculous-looking sunfish – in Danish called a klumpfisk, a name that more appropriately describes the fish’s ungainly awkwardness – which is considered the aquarium’s main star.)Nothing like sampling the best fish the North Sea has to offer right in front of the real live fish of the North Sea. This did seem a little odd, but fairly in keeping with the themes of the rest of the museum, which focuses on the fish species’ value to the fishing industry and how they are caught, processed, and sold rather than focusing on fish biology or North Sea ecology.*

So in case visitors were wondering, the sign over the aquarium cod makes sure to let them know that cod is good for eating…shown by labeling the fish with a picture of a fish on a plate with a knife and fork. Mmm, tasty aquarium fish.

I had seen the aquarium on my own before this dinner, but nothing quite this fancy for regular visitors. Rather than the normal visitor activity of watching the seals be fed,

there was champagne in the “sealarium” with the seals looking on,

And then during the dinner in front of the tank (which, though the chef joked that he was a little nervous preparing fish for so many fishermen, was very very good), there was a show in the tank with a scuba diver feeding the fish.

I had seen the fish fed by the diver before as part of the normal presentation for regular visitors, but normally they do the presentation in Danish and for the international visiting crowd they did it in English instead, which I greatly appreciated.

I’m not usually one for fancy events, but I could get used to this kind of thing.

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