Installed in a mansion built in 1908, the Fishing Museum is one of the main tourist attractions in Santos and is part of historical-cultural heritage of the entire region. Eclectic in style, the building, constructed on the site of the former Fort August (18th century), houses an important collection on the aquatic environment.
Among its attractions are: a 23m-long whale skeleton, giant squid, Beach Room, play wing, a whale boat from 1930, stuffed animals and a huge collection of sand from beaches in Brazil and from around the world.
One of the Museum’s highlights, the skeleton of a fin whale (Balaenoptera physalus) is 23 meters long, with 193 bones, weighing 7 tons. The mammal, washed up on a beach in Peruíbe (the south coast of São Paulo State) in August, 1941, in the middle of the Second World War, was actually mistaken for a German submarine by fishermen. Removing the body was helped by tides and ropes tied to the horns of two bulls. The skeleton arrived at the museum a year later.
The only example exhibited in the world, the stuffed giant squid (Architeuthis sp.) is impressive: no less than 5 meters long and weighing 91 kilos.
A rarity when it comes to stuffed creatures in museums, the manta ray (Manta birostris) on display in the museum spans 4m40 and weighs 600 kilos. It was killed by accident in a gill fishing net in Praia Grande (SP) in June 2005.
It’s even possible to learn a little about sharks in the Museum. Among others, the exhibition boasts a mega-mouth shark (Megachasma pelagius), 1m 90 long; a porbeagler shark (Lamna nasus) 1m 80 long; a sandbar shark (Carcharhinus plumbeus)1m70 long and a school shark (Galeorhinus galeus), 70 centimeters long, from the Azores Islands.
Inspired by the film ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’, the cabin has special lighting, a bow studded with fake jewelry, a play chest representing treasure with imitation gold coins, a resin and recycled material sword and a real monkey skeleton, as in the film. To complete the scene, a stuffed cat ‘meows’ whenever anyone tries to approach the captain’s bed. There are also navigation instruments, such as ship’s wheel, lanterns, nautical map, compass and binnacle. The imaginary figure was inspired by Captain-lieutenant Garcez Palha, who accompanied the construction of the building.
To experience the sensation of handling an old ship’s wheel on the bridge of a sailing boat, just visit the Boat Room, another themed space in the Petrobras Play Wing.
Not to be missed, the Submerged Room boasts a huge glass observation window, going from floor level to the basement, which reproduces ecosystems that make up the sea – bed, sandy beach, rocky coast and mangrove swamp. Here it is possible to get to know animals and plants (resin), characteristic of each ecosystem, and go down to the basement for a better view. The room is one of the three thematic spaces in the Petrobras Play Wing.
Eclectic in architecture style, the building was constructed in 1906 to house the Apprentice Sailors School, on the site of the former August Fort, a fortification from the 18th century. In 1931 it began to function as a Fishing School and only in 1942, with the arrival of the whale skeleton, did it become a museum. It only acquired its current name in 1950.