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The Biodiversity of Antarctica at the National Museum of Natural History (c) NMNHS
The Biodiversity of Antarctica at the National Museum of Natural History (1) (c) NMNHS
The Biodiversity of Antarctica at the National Museum of Natural History (2) (c) NMNHS
The Biodiversity of Antarctica at the National Museum of Natural History (3) (c) NMNHS
The Biodiversity of Antarctica at the National Museum of Natural History (4) (c) NMNHS
The Biodiversity of Antarctica at the National Museum of Natural History (5) (c) NMNHS

The Biodiversity of Antarctica at the National Museum of Natural History

6 December 2021 10:00

With the opening of the updated display “Biodiversity of Antarctica,” the National Museum of Natural History in Sofia, the Bulgarian Antarctic Institute, and the department of Basic and Applied Hydrobiology at the Biological faculty of the Sofia University “St. Kliment Ohridski,” marked the International Day of Antarctica

On December 1st, 2021, at 17:30 the museum’s director, Prof. Pavel Stoev, together with Prof. Hristo Pimpirev, director of the Bulgarian Antarctic Institute, Assoc. Prof. Dr Lubomir Kenderov of the Biology faculty at the Sofia University, and Assoc. Prof. Dr Tihomir Stefanov, ichthyologist at NMNHS, unveiled the updated display “The Biodiversity of Antarctica” in the Fishes exhibition hall. In front of the media, they presented the updated permanent exhibit featuring materials from the 27th and 28th Bulgarian Antarctic expeditions. The scientific specimens were collected from the littoral zone and from open sea near the Bulgarian Arctic base “St. Kliment Ohridski” on Livingston Island, and their laboratory processing and following taxonomical identification were conducted in the ichthyologic lab of NMNHS and in the Biology faculty at the Sofia University. “The Biodiversity of Antarctica” display was crafted under the guidance of Assoc. Prof. Tihomir Stefanov of the museum, with active assistance from Assoc. Prof. Lubomir Kenderov of Sofia University “St. Kliment Ohridski” and Chief Assistant Boyan Zlatkov of the Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Research at BAS.

The museum display includes male and female specimens of the unique icefish, a representative of the only family of vertebrates whose blood lacks haemoglobin and looks white. Other than that, the display features five species of notothenioid fishes, which have specific glycoproteins in their blood that protect them from freezing in the icy temperatures of the Antarctic. Museum visitors will also get the chance to learn about the interesting Adlie penguin, a rare guest near the Bulgarian polar base, a few species of sea invertebrates and representatives of the local flora, as well as specimens of the giant Antarctic worm that reaches over a metre in length.

The National Museum of Natural History with BAS is one of the main partners in the consortium with the National Centre for Polar Studies, who will be conducting the National Programme for Polar Studies for the period of 2022—2027.

“This is exactly because we get along and can work together, walk together, and be of use not only to the Bulgarian, but to global science,” said Professor Pimpirev.

Assoc. Prof. Tihomir Stefanov shared the high expectations Bulgarian scientists have for the scientific laboratory about to be installed at the Bulgarian base. Professor Pimpirev added that “starting next year, we’re moving on to a new stage in the study of not only Antarctica, but also the world ocean with our ship “Saints Cyril and Methodius.” The research vessel can carry a scientific staff of up to 40 people and a crew of 20 and will leave for its maiden voyage in the spring of next year, heading to our polar base on Antarctica and the world ocean.

Among the guests for the event were Professor Rumiana Mecheva (IBER-BAS), Professor Petar Beron (NMNHS), Professor Nesho Chipev (IBER-BAS), and Yordan Yankov (IBA).

The 27th and 28th Antarctic expeditions were conducted from November 2018 to March 2019 and from November 2019 to March 2020 under the leadership of Professor Hristo Pimpirev. The marine invertebrates were collected under the leadership of Assoc. Prof. Dr Lubomir Kenderov of Sofia University for the project “Hydrobiological monitoring of littoral seawaters in front of the Bulgarian coast on Livingston Island” of the Fund for Financing of Polar Research with organisational base Sofia University “St. Kliment Ohridski” and as part of the project “Crustaceans of the order Amphipoda in the seawater of South Bay, Livingston Island: taxonomic composition and ecological characteristics,” financed through a 2019 competition for polar studies and headed by Assoc. Prof. Dr Eliza Usunova from the Biological faculty of the Sofia University, in accordance with the procedure “Competitions for financing of polar research — 2019” of Sofia University and the Ministry of Education and Science.

The fish specimens were collected by Assoc. Prof. Dr Tihomir Stefanov of NMNHS with assistance from the logistics team of the Bulgarian polar base as part of the project “Ichthyologic studies in the coastal seawaters near the Bulgarian polar base on Livingston Island,” financed by the Fund for Financing of Polar Research with organisational base NMNHS.

You can watch a recording of the event on the museum’s Facebook page: https://fb.watch/9DvusnfF30/

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