Oceans Life. Secret Cities Of The Sea & A Live Coral Reef At Natural History Museum In London.
Coral Reefs: Secret Cities of the Sea will include a live coral reef, a virtual dive and more than 200 specimens such as corals, fish and fossils. Open from 27 March to 13 September 2015, this exhibition will explore the richness of life beneath the waves, and its announcement marks World Oceans Day.
Coral reefs are found in shallow waters in the tropics and are home to almost a quarter of all living species in the sea. While they only make up around 0.1% of Earth’s surface, more than 500 million people depend on coral reefs for their livelihood.
The benefits they provide, such as fishing, tourism and protection from storms, are estimated to be worth more than £200 billion each year.
Dr Ken Johnson, coral reef researcher at the Natural History Museum, said, ‘Coral reefs are not simply beautiful environments. They provide food, income and storm protection for many millions of people around the world.’
‘The Museum has an exceptional collection of corals from ancient and modern reefs that we have been studying, to understand how these animals, and the diverse habitats they create, have responded to changes in the ocean.
‘Climate change, pollution and overfishing have had a major effect on them. A quarter of coral reefs around the world are sadly damaged beyond repair and many more are still under serious threat.’
‘Now we have access to new technology, such as the cameras and robots being used by the Catlin Seaview Survey, we can document current conditions of many reefs around the world and gain even more insight into how coral reefs cope with these changes.’
Exhibition partner Catlin Group Limited is the title sponsor of the Catlin Seaview Survey, a multi-year project that works with some of the world’s leading scientific institutions to monitor coral reef health. Stunning imagery from this research project will be an integral part of Coral Reefs: Secret Cities of the Sea. High-definition panoramic views displayed on 180-degree screens will help visitors to the exhibition experience what it is like to navigate through coral reefs.
Stephen Catlin, chief executive of Catlin Group Limited, said, ‘Coral reefs are not only beautiful, but they also serve as an important indicator of critical changes currently taking place in our oceans. The Catlin Seaview Survey has been producing independent scientific data for the past three years to help scientists learn more about coral reef health and future sustainability. Catlin is delighted to join with the Natural History Museum to help everyone learn more about both the majesty and importance of coral reefs.’
The exhibition will contain more than 200 specimens from the Museum’s vast collections. Displays will include specimens collected by Darwin on the HMS Beagle expedition from 1831 to 1836, giant washing machine-sized Turbinaria coral, and some of the strange and spectacular creatures that call the reefs home, from venomous blue-ringed octopus to tiny sponge crabs.
Although corals can look rock-like, they are actually colonies of tiny animals related to jellyfish, with limestone skeletons. Corals grow incredibly slowly, sometimes as little as one or two millimetres a year. They are highly sensitive to changes in the ocean, such as temperature, pollution and acidity. Coral reefs and the enormous variety of life they host can act as early warning signals, alerting us to changing conditions in the oceans.