MARINE BIOLOGICAL STATION, THANGASSERI, KOLLAM.
(under the auspices of Department of Zoology, Sree Narayana College, Kollam, Kerala, from 1953 to mid-1970.)
The Marine Biological Station started functioning at Thangasseri, Kollam, in a rented building adjacent to the famous ‘Thangasseri Lighthouse’ in 1953. It was started under the auspices of the Department of Zoology, Sree Narayana College, Kollam, managed by Sree Narayana Trusts, Kollam. The primary aim of the project is to collect and preserve various sea animals for study purposes. This in turn later facilitated in the setting up and curation of the museum housed adjacent to the Department of Zoology. Late Prof. S. Sivaprasad, was the Head of the Department at that time, succeeding the veteran Professor and Head of the Department Sri. K. S. Padmanabha Iyer. He was greatly assisted by
Mr. K. R. Purushothaman Nair, who had an avid aptitude for collection & preservation of animals and museum curation. As years passed by, Sri. R. Sankar, the Secretary of the S. N. Trusts sanctioned Mr. Nair’s project and he was later appointed the first Director of the Marine Biological Station at Kollam. Interesting enough the museum he curated soon grew into a place of attraction imparting valuable information on marine life to the public. It consisted of a museum and as well as a large aquarium for both freshwater and marine animals; and the entry to it for the public was free. It housed a rare collection of articulated skeletons of large animals, of which the largest being the 45 feet long whale. The other specimens included the skeletal remains of Dolphin, Porpoise, Marine turtle, etc. Certain plaster cast models of leathery turtle, dolphin, etc., were also added later. These were exhibited in the famous exhibition, conducted in connection with the Golden Jubilee celebration of the S.N.D.P. Yogam, Kollam, organized under the leadership of Sri. R. Sankar, who was the General Secretary of the Yogam at that time.
The whale mentioned above was washed off into the shores at Kovalam Beach, Thiruvanathapuarm, in 1953. The news soon came flashing in the dailies, and Sri. Sankar contemplating on the Science exhibition in 1953, set off along with Mr. Purushothaman Nair. They soon schemed it up and made arrangements for burying the body of the whale in the beach, where it had washed into. Months later the whale’s skeletal remains were collected, cleaned and neatly arrayed to be displayed at the Departmental Stall of the exhibition. Later they were all moved to the Biological Station and exhibited there.
The Marine Biological Station further grew into a financially self-dependent institution. It started bulk preservation of various dissection materials in college laboratories and research centers. They were mostly sharks, various other fishes, squids, snails, prawns etc. Mounting materials like coelenterates were seasonally abundant at Kollam fishing centers. The fishermen provided the station with curious and rare animal forms netted or washed ashore. The dissected items were of great demand all over India. Preserved museum specimens, corals, articulated skeletons etc., were of great demand and the station became a supply center too. Late Mr. V. K Divakaran and Mr. M. P. Madhusudanan, former faculty of this college stayed at the Biological Station and assisted Mr. Nair in all the research activities. Two efficient fieldmen-attenders were also appointed, of which Mr. Peter, a fisherman, and Mr. Shanmughan, were deployed for collecting, packing and forwarding the specimens. The Biological Station rose to its glory during the 1960s. Later in the 1970s the station was disconnected from the Department of Zoology and had to function self independently. When it was later found to be difficult to function, it was later wound up and the exhibited specimens were moved to the Zoological Museum at Department of Zoology, S. N. College, Kollam. Currently, the Zoological Museum had underwent an upkeep and renovation under the guidance of Sri. Vellappally Natesan, the honorable General Secretary of S N Trusts and SNDP Yogam.
(The above data was provided by Prof. M. P. Madhusudanan and Dr Ramanujan, Former faculty members at the Department of Zoology S. N. College, Kollam, on an interview held on 31 January 2002.)
An Enumeration of the History of Blue Whale Skull Exhibited in the Zoological Museum of S N College, Kollam, Kerala.
The exhibited bony structure is the skull of a 45 feet long blue whale. Besides this, scapula and certain vertebral bones are also displayed. The whale had washed itself into the shores of Kovalam Beach, Thiruvananthapuram, in 1953. The news was soon reported in the dailies and Sri. R. Sankar (Founder Manager of S N Colleges, Former Secretary of S N Trusts, Kollam, and the former General Secretary of SNDP Yogam, and the former Chief Minister of Kerala), who was contemplating on the conduct of a Science exhibition taking the aid of
Mr. K. R. Purushothaman Nair, (Director of S N Marine Biological Station founded at Thangasseri, Kollam), embarked on a mission of salvaging the dead remains of the blue whale form Kovalam beach. It was later schemed up and buried. Months later the whale skeleton was collected, cleaned and arranged to be displayed at the Departmental Stall of the famous exhibition, conducted in connection with the Golden Jubilee celebration of the SNDP Yogam in 1954. Later they were all moved to the Biological Station and all the items mentioned earlier were exhibited there. The Biological Station rose to its glory during the 1960s. Later in the 1970s the station was disconnected from the Department of Zoology and had to function self independently. When it was later found to be difficult to function, it was later wound up and the exhibited specimens were moved to the Zoological Museum at Department of Zoology, Sree Narayana College, Kollam.