An image of a dog dressed as a sailor on a ship illustrates the exhibition poster

Marine Beasts in the Ancient Drassanes

The Maritime Museum of Barcelona dedicates a small exhibition to the most animalistic sailors to ever navigate the seas.

It may be true that navigation is a human invention, but many living creatures have benefited from it, ranging from the tiniest insects to cats, dogs, and other travel companions that have covered more nautical miles than some people. Their stories are told at the Maritime Museum until March 3 in the exhibition "Animals on Board."

You probably already know that the Maritime Museum reviews the history of navigation and sailors, showing old boats and everyday items from sailors of times gone by. However, they also care about those who spent a significant part of their lives at sea and their accumulated experiences. This is why they organised a discussion with retired merchant navy captains some time ago. Among many other topics, these old sea dogs spoke about the animals that accompanied them on their voyages. The discussion served as the starting point for this exhibition.

Because, yes, there is more life on a ship than it seems. Not just because navigation has been the means of entry to many territories (for example, New Zealand) for rats and mice and for various insects (such as certain types of Asian or American insects that have thus reached the European continent). It's also because, among the ship's crew, there were always... four-legged sailors.

Sometimes, these were animals intended for consumption that travelled with the crew until the moment they were to become food for the sailors. Other times, they were animals transported to a new destination, and sometimes, they were members of the crew with an assigned task.

Dogs that watched and accompanied, cats in charge of hunting rats, mice that hid, hoping to survive until the end of the voyage, cockroaches, bedbugs, and a multitude of human parasites, even mussels that clung to the hull... Could this Noah's Ark be a myth with a real basis?

Suppose you want to briefly review the history of animal navigation. In that case, you have a date in the lobby of the Maritime Museum with a small exhibition that tells you about some unjustly overlooked sailors. Come and learn their story, but before you do, check the information about the exhibition on the website.

Publication date: Monday, 30 October 2023
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