Shipping VIPosted on 08-03-2017 by Becky Desjardins
So there has been one aspect to this trip that has been making me super nervous is shipping all the specimens back to the Netherlands.
If the paperwork is not done correctly, there is a chance the specimens could be held at customs, or worse, destroyed. So everything has to be done perfectly! Fortunately, Naturalis Loan officer Wendy van Bohemen has been my coach on all this, so there shouldn’t be any trouble. She has lots of experience.
When shipping specimens preserved in alcohol, it really complicated. Everything has to be triple sealed in plastic with paper towels in between a few of the layers. The box has to be a cardboard box of double thickness. You have to put styrofoam bits in the bottom and the top to cushion the specimens but also to protect them in case customs officials decide to open it with a knife. Also, the amount of alcohol in each box has to be pretty small. Happily, this time it is just DNA specimens and there is not much alcohol in there. And of course, all the vials and everything has to be labeled.
And then there is the paperwork. What institution it is coming from, where it is going to, authorizations from the governments of the shipping and receiving institutions to prove the museums have the right to have and ship these specimens. Fed Ex paperwork. CITES paperwork. Recently sending bird study skins to America involved 40 pages of paperwork! Hopefully getting specimens out of the states will involve a few less pages.
What I am dealing with here is only a fraction of what researchers on expedition have to deal with. If you want to collect animals, plants or insects while out in the field, it is a whole different level of difficulty. Getting permission to bring plants from the jungles of Suriname to Naturalis involves getting permissions, paying fees, hiring local people to help, and then all the shipping paperwork. But all this trouble is worth it for the research that will come out of these specimens!