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Liu Bixing: Pingtan’s collector of the deep

en.ptnet.cn | Updated:2022-09-20 | Lin Kongbo, Stephanie

Liu Bixing has developed a special affection for the sea because he was born and grew up on Pingtan island, the fifth largest island in China. In 2019, he met an archaeologist from the International Research Center for Austronesian Archaeology based in Pingtan. The two had a good conversation and the idea of making specimens of the marine creatures came into his mind.

To Liu, making specimens is a way to have the diversity of marine life recorded and the information of each species preserved.

"Sea horse" specimen

Liu prepared 20 freezers and put them across major fishing ports on the island. As soon as the fishermen find a new species, they take it to the freezer and inform him. 

"Balloonfish" specimen

It takes more than 20 days from collecting species to turning into specimens. The more Liu explores, the more he gets obsessed.

"Sea snail" specimen

Walking into Liu’s residence, the finished works are neatly arranged on the shelf. Tools and equipment are placed all over the room. There is hardly an unoccupied space except for a chair to rest.

Each piece of specimen requires strenuous trials. “Once, I stayed home for 40 days to concentrate on experimenting,” said Liu. 

"Blacktip shark" specimen

From parasites that cling to fish for survival to sizable blacktip sharks, Liu Bixing has seen extensive species of marine life and tackled numerous challenges during his years of research. 

"Octopus" specimen

Liu Bixing said that there are no shortcuts when it comes to perfecting a craft. A craftsman needs to be patient and detail-oriented. "Specimens can also be lively. In my early days of studying marine life, I tried making my works livelier by embedding them so that they look more vivid."

"Lobster" specimen

Liu’s works became more and more sophisticated thanks to his continuous pursuit of excellence.

Meanwhile, a bold idea crossed his mind: dividing the specimen displays into two sides. One side showcases the external features of each marine creature, while the other side is the skeletal structure and insides.

Liu introduced, "I've just completed a sea bream specimen. It takes much more effort to reveal its anatomy."

Liu has preserved up to 200 varieties of specimens which are also used as teaching aids. Many schools invited Liu to exhibit his specimens. “The exhibitions raised awareness of environment protection for students.”

“My goal is to increase the number of specimens to 500, and I hope to display them in large museums in the future,” said Liu Bixing. 

"Sea urchin" specimen

Liu also expressed that he hopes to turn his works of science into works of art by re-tweaking the encased marine specimens into souvenirs for tourists.

"Fly fish" specimen

“A large number of tourists come to Pingtan Island for the seafood. Some like to have fun experiencing fishing on the sea, and some like to savor delicious seafood. It will be another delight if they walk away with some exquisite specimens, which will help enhance the reputation of Pingtan as an international tourism destination.

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Editor in Charge:Lin Kongbo
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