Source: Natural History Museum
London’s Natural History Museum has a new star: an awesome 83-foot blue whale skeleton. Taking center stage at the beautifully refurbished Hintze Hall, the skeleton is suspended from the ceiling in the diving lunge feeding position, allowing visitors to marvel at the 221 bones of the largest creature ever to have lived. The Duchess of Cambridge, the Museum’s Patron, joined naturalist Sir David Attenborough for the launch reception on July 13, before the exhibit opened to the public the following day.
Hunted to the brink of extinction before conservation measures were implemented, blue whales have become a symbol of humanity’s ability to forge a sustainable future, which explains the Museum’s choice of name for the female blue whale: Hope. Director of the Natural History Museum, Sir Michael Dixon, said: “Putting our blue whale, Hope, at the centre of the Museum, between living species on the West and extinct species on the East, is a powerful reminder of the fragility of life and the responsibility we have towards our planet.”
Sir Michael went on: “We are living at a critical point in the history of the Earth. This generation’s decisions will have an unprecedented impact on the world we live in. It is within the grasp of humanity to shape a future that is sustainable, and now more than ever we want our galleries and exhibitions to inspire a love of the natural world, and our scientific expertise to inform solutions to the big, global challenges we face.”
It is thought that there were about a quarter of a million blue whales roaming the world’s oceans in the 1800s. The year global protections began, 1966, just 400 were estimated to be left. The current number is approximately 20,000.
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