There’s no denying that corals are remarkable and beautiful creatures but even the most seasoned diver in unlikely to have got close enough to truly appreciate them. Well thanks to Coral Reefs: Secret Cities of the Sea, an exhibition currently open at the Natural History Museum in London, now we all have the chance to get up close and personal with the Great Barrier Reef (without even donning a wetsuit).
The exhibition is based around the Catlin Seaview Survey and offers visitors the chance to see a live coral reef along with over 200 coral, fish and fossil specimens – including some collected by Charles Darwin on his HMS Beagle expedition. A virtual dive through some of the beautiful imagery produced by the Catlin survey - which helped create the recently launched Google underwater StreetView - is also not to be missed. It has also inspired a series of events and talks, which will run throughout the summer and take in topics including beached whales, cold water corals, sea shells and the reptiles that lives in the reefs.
As part of the exhibition the Natural History Museum has produced a series of educational videos exploring the multi-faceted underwater world of coral reefs. Our favourite gives a stunning inside look at the lifeline of the coral that lives in the Great Barrier Reef, including the annual mating season – a sight considered to be one of the greatest natural wonders of the world. Watch the film in full below:
“Coral reefs are not simply beautiful environments. They provide food, income and storm protection for many millions of people around the world,” said Dr Ken Johnson, coral reef researcher at the Natural History Museum. “The Museum has an exceptional collection of corals from ancient and modern reefs that we have been studying, to understand how these animals, and the diverse habitats they create, have responded to changes in the ocean.
“Climate change, pollution and overfishing have had a major effect on them. A quarter of coral reefs around the world are sadly damaged beyond repair and many more are still under serious threat. Now we have access to new technology, such as the cameras and robots being used by the Catlin Seaview Survey, we can document current conditions of many reefs around the world and gain even more insight into how coral reefs cope with these changes.”
Coral Reefs: Secret Cities of the Sea is on at the Natural History Museum, London, until 13 September 2015. Visit nhm.ac.uk.