Three new exhibits at the Smithsonian’s Museum of Natural History highlight the link between humans and the ocean.
“Portraits of Planet Ocean” features 20 images of marine wildlife and habitat by nature photographer Brian Skerry. Skerry has spent 30 years documenting ocean life and the impact of humans on marine ecosystems in National Geographic and in such books as “Ocean Soul.” The exhibit illustrates both the diversity of undersea life and its fragility.
Artist Cornelia Kubler Kavanaugh offers another perspective on nature’s vulnerability in “Fragile Beauty: The Art & Science of Sea Butterflies.” According to the curators, Kavanaugh’s aluminum and bronze sculptures portray Earth’s “invisible” animals, pea-size sea snails commonly called sea butterflies. The exhibit is designed to draw attention to the impact of ocean acidification on these creatures and on such animals as whales that depend on them as a food source.
“Living on an Ocean Planet” is a new permanent gallery designed to show visitors how their daily actions affect the ocean. Interactive multimedia installations, videos and “education stations” aim to help people understand the urgency of preserving marine ecosystems and how small steps can help conservation efforts. Visitors can calculate their carbon footprint and find tips on reducing it, learn how to manage a sustainable marine fishery and watch videos on climate change and fishery management.
The exhibits celebrate the fifth anniversary of the museum’s Sant Ocean Hall.