Sharks are composed entirely of cartilage, with no bones unlike other fish. The cleaning and preparation of shark skulls is a very delicate and time consuming process, as the methodology used cannot be the same as for other fish. Meticulous scalpel work is necessary to remove all the flesh and tissue from the skull and then the skull is washed and whitened.
Once ready, it is removed from the solution and dried, ensuring that areas such as the eyeballs and otic canals are sufficiently immobilised to ensure drying without warping.
The jaw needs to be perfectly in balance with the rest of the skull and opened just enough for it to look natural.
Like the skull, the rest of the shark skeleton is also cartilage. The articulation of a full shark skeleton is an extremely difficult and laborious process, involving many hours of careful cleaning, using both surgical equipment and chemicals.
The drying process, after the whitening, is the most important aspect of the preparation, as the fins and other thin areas will tend to shrink and warp, unless they are positioned and kept in place with various clamps. A full skeleton will usually take up to 4-6 weeks to fully dry, and then a further 2 weeks to finish completely.