An astonishing exhibit in New York City underscores the physical immensity of whales — and the magnitude of the issues facing all whale species, which have been hunted to near extinction. The American Museum of Natural History’s exhibit — Whales: Giants of the Deep — explores the world of whales, and traces the close connections humans and whales have shared for centuries.
The exhibit allows visitors to experience a simulated deep dive with a sperm whale on the hunt for a giant squid, listen to whale croons, and find out about people whose lives have been inextricably linked with whales, from New Zealand’s Maori whale riders to the people fighting to enforce laws protecting the cetaceans from commercial hunting. “I love the full-size model of the blue-whale heart,” says John J. Flynn, the museum’s curator of fossil mammals. “It’s awesome — a perfect thing for kids.”
The exhibit also features a suspended 58-foot-long male sperm-whale skeleton — a little longer than a typical school bus. Collected in 2003 as a result of a mass stranding of whales on a beach in West Auckland, New Zealand, it is adjacent to a smaller female.