by Jude Timms
Majestic, beautiful, intelligent, mysterious, adored and endangered – whales are among the most revered creatures on earth and yet their future continues to be threatened.
Skeletons of Pakicetus, Ambulocetus and Archeocete - Australian National Maritime Museum
A new exhibition designed and produced by the Museum national d'Histoire naturelle, Paris, at the Australian National Maritime Museum this autumn will immerse visitors in the world of whales and highlight the importance of conservation to their future survival. Amazing Whales – Evolution and survival opens on 20 March and heralds the start of the museum’s Whale Season.
From graceful giants of the sea to playful dolphins, dangerous predators such as orcas to the mysterious narwhal and beluga whales, cetaceans, of all the mamals, have undergone a most remarkable journey to become the diverse range of aquatic creatures they are today and their survival is still under threat.
Amazing Whales - Evolution and survival examines the relationship between humans and whales – from the mythology of whales and the bonds between them both to the consequences of whaling.
And while commercial whaling is now largely a thing of the past, the exhibition shines a light on the ongoing debate on the hunting of whales. It also examines the other human activities that continue to seriously threaten them including pollution, industrialization, commercial fishing, global warming and even noise pollution and what we can do to help.
An interactive touch table reveals the extent of the whaling industry in Australia and how the towns that once prospered from now focus on whale watching tourism. Visitors will also discover some of the more peculiar myths associated with whales including the belief that climbing inside the body of a beached whale would cure arthritis.
Visitors will come face to face with large replica skeletons and fossils dating back 50 million years to discover how whales developed from primitive hoofed land creatures to hydrodynamic waterborne mammals.
Visitors will also discover many fascinating facts about the lives and biology of these awesome creatures through a combination of objects and interactive displays. Did you know that the sperm whale can hold its breath for more than two hours; the largest animal on the planet – the 30 metre blue whale – has no teeth and lives mainly on krill; toothed whales have a sixth sense and can analyse the echos bouncing off obstacles; and whales and dolphins have extremely sensitive skin and love to be caressed?
Amazing Whales – Evolution and survival is presented in conjunction with the Museum national d'Histoire naturelle in Paris and runs from 20 March until 20 July. Tickets are part of the museum’s Big Ticket - $27 adults, $16 child/concession, $70 family. For further information visit anmm.gov.au/amazingwhales/!website!new
The exhibition heralds the start of the museum’s Whale Season throughout autumn and winter. Amazing Whales will be complemented by Beautiful whale – life-size photography by Bryant Austin - a remarkable photographic exhibition where visitors come face-to-face with giant underwater images of whales at sea. This exhibition opens on 11 April.
The Whale Season will also feature a display of quirky whale artifacts from the museum’s collection, a full range of whale inspired public programs and school holiday activities and an aquatic inspired roof projection during the Vivid Sydney festival in May.
The Australian National Maritime Museum, in Darling Harbour, is open from 9.30am to 5pm daily. All enquiries (02) 9298 3777 or visit website
Skeleton of Pakicetus - Australian National Maritime Museum
Skeleton of Ambulocetus and Pakicetus in background - Australian National Maritime Museum