New York’s American Museum of Natural History has sued American Airlines and is seeking at least $25,000 in damages because the airline destroyed two barrels of rare fish. The fish barrels were being shipped from Africa, but when the plane carrying them stopped in Brussels last October, the lawsuit says a Brussels Airlines official spotted a leak and said the containers would be resealed and shipped to New York on an American Airlines flight. After a few days, the museum says it was told by American, “that the barrels had to be destroyed because they were purportedly leaking and ‘full of maggots.’”
The museum says American’s, “explanation is not credible because the fish specimens had been preserved in a solution of formalin and then double-bagged, creating an environment in which no maggot or pest could survive.” The damages AMNH is seeking include the cost of buying and shipping the dead fish, plus “the loss of research which would have resulted from the specimens” as part of the museum’s “Congo Project.” Students from the University of Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of the Congo collected the fish samples in remote rivers last year.
Here’s a brief overview of what The Congo Project is studying:
… this short stretch of the Congo River is punctuated by some of the most spectacular cataracts, falls and gorges on Earth. The region, known as the Lower Congo rapids, harbors a diverse yet poorly known ichthyofauna, with many species characterized by bizarre morphologies, probably associated with adaptations to living in rapids-habitats. The spectacular but poorly known Lower Congo River and the biological richness it harbors, combined with the growing threats to the region, make this a compelling focus for scientific exploration and inventory in Africa.