Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Whales : Giants of the Deep

Chicago’s Field Museum has been on quite a roll regarding animal-related special exhibitions. Last year they presented an exhibit on Mammoths and Mastodons, this spring was a feature on Horses, and now we have Whales!

Running until January 16, 2012, Whales: Giants of the Deep is a travelling exhibit initially developed by the Museum of New Zealand. Because of this, a nice chunk of its features relate to Whales in New Zealand and their relationship with Maori culture.

Unfortunately, no photography was allowed in the exhibit, so I don’t have anything for you to gawk at other than some stock photos. However, I can point out a few of the highlights, and some of my favorite features.

For one, they had a section devoted to whale evolution, including skeletons and information plaques about the various proto-whales that swam the prehistoric seas.

They had numerous models and skeletons of modern whales as well, from massive Sperm Whales all the way down to the bathtub-sized Hector’s Dolphins. Different models and features relating to anatomy were also set up, including a crawl-through Blue Whale heart, an echolocation chamber, and a sound room that let you experience the wide range of Whale and Dolphin sounds and frequencies.

The human relationship with Whales is also explored. A gallery introduces visitors to the link between Whales and New Zealand’s Maori culture, while an additional section deals with the history of Whale hunts.  A further area discusses the phenomenon of Whale Strandings, including their causes and the efforts taken to either save the whales, or to humanly euthanize them when no other options are available.

The exhibit really covered all its bases. Visitors will learn about Whale origins, biology, behaviors, and relationships with humans. An excellent presentation overall, and one I would highly recommend.

 Whales : Giants of the Deep will be at the Chicago Field Museum until January 16, 2012.

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