Whales: Beneath the Surface

The Natural History Museum’s new show about whales


The Natural History Museum in London unveiled its new star attraction last week – a 25-metre long blue whale skeleton suspended from the ceiling of the grand Hintze Hall. The skeleton replaced Dippy the dinosaus which has been in Hintze Hall since 1905.

It’s a fascinating exhibition and one that the Natural History Museum hopes will highlight our role in protecting the future of the planet. One of the items in the show is a plastic bottle – an object that has had a devastating impact on marine life around the world.

Whales are incredibly mysterious and complex creatures, and the giants of the seas. This exhibition brings you face to face with some of the world’s most impressive whale specimens, and shows how we are starting to understand and answer the biggest challenges facing whales today.’ – Richard Sabin, whale expert at the Museum.

Whales: Beneath the Surface shows how whales have evolved over 50 million years and adapted to extreme environments. It features 100 specimens from the museum’s collection including skulls and a blue whale flipper. It also looks at the similarities between whales and humans.

As an enormous creature that lived on land and then, about 45m years ago, moved into the ocean, the blue whale as a species is perfectly placed to tell the stories of evolution and the origins and diversity of life on the planet. But it also makes a critical point about the importance of conservation.

“When our whale was alive there were probably 250,000 whales alive in the world’s oceans, and over the next century, until the 1960s, we hunted them practically to the brink of extinction, [until] there were probably only a few hundred left” – Michael Dixon, the director of the museum.

Blue Whales is an endangered specie with as few as 20,000 left in the wild. However, in some countries, shipping lines hit whales to Death possibly 50 per year, leading them to a rapid extinction. See the project Save whales from ship strikes created by Friend of the Sea.

This modern purpose for the museum hopes to inspire a love of the natural world and to unlock answers to the biggest issues facing humanity and the planet.

Whales: Beneath the Surface is on display at the Natural History Museum from 14 July 2017, and kickstarts an extended season of events regarding the oceans which will run until February 28, 2018. For more information visit nhm.ac.uk/visit/exhibitions/whales.html

World Sustainability Organization