The shark was well-preserved in a tank filled with formaldehyde at an Australian park.
Back in 1991, Charles Saatchi (of the Saatchi & Saatchi communications & advertising network) hired the services of a young artist, Damien Hirst, to create a piece of his own liking. Hirst was a budding artist back then and had just unveiled his very first solo exhibition that very year. He was also one of the more prominent members of the Young British Artists, a group that was also curated and supported by the Saatchi brothers. The piece was titled The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living. It had a tiger shark that was caught off the coast of Hervey Bay in Queensland, Australia, and preserved in formaldehyde.
The preservation procedures were not easy at first, and the shark was eventually gutted and had its skin stretched over a fiberglass mold. The iconic piece of art has something in common with Rosie the Great white shark found in 2018 by a YouTuber LukieMc. Quite accidentally and without the intention, of course. Rosie was preserved perfectly in a tank and left in an abandoned wildlife sanctuary in Victoria, Australia. Daily Mail reports that Rosie was first discovered tangled in tuna fishing nets off the coast of South Australia back in 1998. The shark was already dead and was preserved with the intention of being displayed at an eco-tourism center for seals, as they are a significant part of the shark's diet.
In the early 2000s, the park started to expand its underwater display but did not reserve any space for the shark and left it stranded within its showcase. The shark was then placed in a small wildlife park dedicated to preserving Giant Gippsland Earthworms. In 2003, the park and the shark with its tank were sold off, though the original owner wanted to donate the shark to the Melbourne Museum. Over the years, there was a lack of adequate maintenance and the park was eventually closed in 2012 for not having the right display permits and licenses. Most of the animals were surrendered over to the RSPCA and the Department of Sustainability for rehabilitation. The shark was still left behind in its tank and sat in the darkness for several years, untouched and perfectly preserved.
The formaldehyde in the tank helps preserve the dead body of the shark. Though the solution has been tainted over time and you can see the widening cracks on the tank turning murky green, the shark itself remains relatively untouched by the passing of time. The place where it was found is also quite creepy and looks similar to an eerie underground facility. There are signs of life but no one is around. There is a lot of furniture, clothing, pictures, and expired food. The news of the shark's discovery went viral online and got a lot of attention from locals. "Got told about this on the hush-hush a few weeks back and now it seems everyone knows about it thanks to YouTube," Australian artist Don Krapski wrote on Instagram. "A couple of hours out of town, there’s a large white shark rotting in a display tank in an abandoned amusement park. Vandals recently tore the roof off the tank and I guess in a couple more weeks, this’ll all be gone," he wrote.