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Masters of the Ocean Realm
Whales, Dolphins and Porpoises

whale fluke"Masters of the Ocean Realm: Whales, Dolphins and Porpoises," an exhibition featuring life-size whales, dolphins and porpoises, opens Oct. 5 at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History. The exhibition features hands-on displays and walk-through dioramas showcasing the evolution, study and conservation of the cetaceans - whales and their kindred species. "Masters of the Ocean Realm" continues through Jan. 2, 2002.

"Masters of the Ocean Realm" explores the vital place of whales and their relatives on our planet and their influence on our culture. The exhibition reveals how cetaceans evolved from a wolf-like land mammal into an array of sea creatures. Through a variety of displays, visitors will learn about the unique traits these sea mammals have developed - such as echolocation and blowholes - and see how they interact as family groups and in hunting packs.

Exhibition highlights include:

  • Life-size replicas of dolphins, a killer whale, a narwhal, a pygmy sperm whale, a Gulf of California harbor porpoise, and the unusually long-nosed Franciscana dolphin, which lives only in the waters off the coast of South America
  • A jukebox that plays several of the most well-known whale songs - including those from the humpback and gray whales
  • A chart and stopwatch to allow children to compare how long they can hold their breath to the time achieved by the world record-holding sperm whales.
  • Models of cetacean teeth and baleen, the large filtering device for straining tiny food particles from the water
  • Simulated blubber overlying half of a chilled surface, illustrating how whale fat is excellent insulation

Dioramas in the exhibit feature both underwater scenes which visitors walk through, and snapshots of human habitats that have been influenced by the sea mammals. Included are an ancient Greek ruin containing artifacts of dolphin artwork and coins; a replica of a 19th-century New England home complete with whale oil lamps, scrimshaw and whale fat soap; and a diorama featuring a Native American storyteller, with recorded sounds.

"Masters of the Ocean Realm," an exhibition of the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, conveys a message of both education and conservation.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), a federal science agency with responsibility for marine mammals in U.S. territorial waters, is a partner in presenting this exhibition at the Smithsonian. NOAA oversees advanced research projects involving marine mammals, such as satellite tracking of whales which will be highlighted in the exhibition, and strong conservation and education programs about marine mammal strandings and recovery.

Click here to enter the NOAA website.

This exhibition is made possible with the support of the Cingular Wireless "Be Sensible" campaign, a public service initiative encouraging safe and courteous wireless phone use.