Yesterday I had the chance to return to my old stomping ground to visit the Museum of the Earth’s staff and volunteers (I miss them all immensely) and to see their new exhibit, Whales: From the Depths of the National Geographic Collection. If you have the chance, I strongly recommend visiting the museum to view this awe-inspiring exhibit. It will take your breath away. In my slideshow you will see just a small sampling of the photos on display but your really need to be there to get the true experience. Over the exhibit gallery hangs the skeleton of a 44 foot-long North Atlantic Right Whale which beached off the New Jersey coast a few years ago. Her death was due to being caught in fishing line–an unfortunate way to go for any animal but it’s especially tragic considering there are only around 300 of these whales left in the world. Paired with the photos are the haunting melodies of whale songs provided by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s Bioacoustic Research Program, facts on whale evolution (Did you know that the whales closest living relatives are hippos? Now you do.), kids coloring activities, and action steps you can take to help whales. You will walk away feeling overwhelmed by the idea that you are sharing this planet with such majestically beautiful creatures. The exhibit is up until June 4th so you have some time still to plan your visit to the museum.
I also made sure to photograph and include the spectacular artistry of staff member, Maija Cantori. The queen a paper-mache herself created Senorita Anita the Ammonita (the ammonite) and Barnacle Betty (the adorable North Atlantic Right Whale), the painting of the North Atlantic Right Whale with her calf AND some of the kids coloring sheets for the Whales exhibit. Such a talent! I’ve never seen someone do such an amazing job with paper-mache, especially on such a grand scale. This is another great example of how art and science go together like hand in glove. Just as an aside: if you ever get a chance to meet Maija, make sure to ask her when she’s starting her pinata business.
In the slideshow you will also see (in no particular order) a glacier garden, the Hyde Park mastodon (found not too far from where I’m living now), a Dunkleosteus (an armor-plated fish about the size of a school bus), early amphibians creeping their way onto land, a lobed-fined fish, casts of swimming reptiles (like Nessie), the largest intact sea scorpion fossil, sea scorpion art depicting a larger sea scorpion man-handling a smaller one, a glorious slab of fairly sizable trilobites (Who doesn’t love trilobites?), a cast of a T-Rex skull, and coelophysis art through the ages (I actually spelled coelophysis correctly the first go around! Wow!).
**I’m sure this doesn’t have to be said but please, no using the National Geographic photos without giving proper credit to the photographers who probably risked life and limb to get these photos (I would have provided photo credits had I not put them in a slideshow that won’t allow for captions.)** If you are wondering who the photographer is or want to see more cool whale photos, pop on over to National Geographic. Here is more information on the narwhal photos on display in the exhibit. They are super cool and might just be my favorite, but it’s hard to say. I strongly urge you to visit this page because the photographer writes about his experience with Inuit hunters seeking narwhal tusks and skins.