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Natural History Museum Exhibit Takes In-Depth Look At Whales

A sperm whale is pictured in this undated photo.
Courtesy of Brandon Cole.
A sperm whale is pictured in this undated photo.
Natural History Museum Exhibit Takes In-Depth Look At Whales
Natural History Museum Exhibit Takes In-Depth Look At Whales GUESTS: Tom Deméré, curator of paleontology, San Diego Natural History Museum Pat Stodard, touring exhibitions manager, Museum of New Zealand

This is KPBS midday addition. I am Maureen Cavanaugh. The largest mammals on earth are the subject of a new exhibition at the natural history Museum in Balboa Park. Wales -- giants of the deep as an exhibit that curators say visitors will want to explore. From massive well skeletons to Wellstone's -- to the well culture and the people of the South Pacific. Training is Dr. Tom Demere -- curator of paleontology in San Diego. Looking to the show. Is great to be here. Pat Stodard is touring exhibitions manager at the Museum of New Zealand. Welcome Thank you This exhibition sounds big. Like taking up a lot of space big. How large an exhibition is this? 7000 ft.² So it is big What will hit your eye as you walk in? That wells are big animals. They are also small animals to. Is not only great wealth like -- Wales and sperm whales but also dolphins and purposes. You have these two enormous wealth skeletons overhead in the exhibition. Actually Pat can talk more about that. That hits your eye as you just walk and. We don't give it to you first off -- we have a little teaser behold forehand and we talk about the culture that goes on. A lot of the story is about how whales and people have interacted over the years. Good and bad. Then once you have gotten the background, then you meet -- our big sperm whales male and female. The exhibition as I said originated in New Zealand. You are the touring exhibitions manager. Why did the New Zealand use them want to create an exhibit on Wales? We have some of the largest collections around. Down and New Zealand. We believe -- has the largest collection. The Smithsonian has not -- nobody else is going to show up. This exhibition -- the Wales influence the culture of the indigenous population of New Zealand and we see a lot of that in the exhibit. You do -- it is not only New Zealand it also elsewhere in the Pacific, Fiji -- all of them were influenced. One a well stranded and most of these animals did not want Wales -- it was an enormous bounty for them. Both in terms of meat and/-- but also it was a hugely significant thing to have something of this size appear on the beach. Exactly. How do the well populations of the South Pacific for from the kinds of Wales we see on whale watching exhibitions off the coach -- cost. Many of the same species occur on both hemispheres. They don't get together very often. Him your seasonal migration for him to think. Him to the feeding one hemisphere carefully to the other. Him up there on that are indigenous to the area the separate Wellstone occur in the theater to this area. May have the white whale to -- is the spirit that we don't have in our hemisphere. What are some of the interactive part of& -- Exhibition Have a number of them. The story told. You get stories the total. The perinatologist a 1st about what he does and how the. Get well researchers like them all the fourth in the court Tom Demere. The collection of pushbutton one them all the fourth in the court Tom Demere. The collection of pushbutton 105 design your own dolphins to see how it does the defense board that you please have a -- the candy. To explore the differences between him this is quite a find out by the there is also in this exhibit with "the what is it will part? We have the will part. Made out of fiberglass. Community if you bring your kids to the exhibit and you lose them they will be in the blue well hard. But it does give you a real sense of the size of it. Suspended -- is a -- which is the smallest of the --. That often literally swim outside of that hard. Just the fact that there is giants of the deep -- but also. Why did Matt want to bring this to San Diego? San Diego is an area where people will watch seasonally. People live near the ocean. We love the resources the most spectacular organism the offshore and they are just in general and Wales. Film watching started here I with a 3 at least in the hemisphere for the poor just passivated. Always have some Wales. In our regular exhibit will feature the mini is important in recent years we have learned a lot about the intelligent social behavior of Wales. How intelligent are they? I'm not an expert on that. -- They are very social. At least certain species. They show remarkable levels of intelligence. I always say my dog is pretty smart to. So not that a Dauphin is the same intelligence as a dog and vice versa. One thing dogs cannot do is sing. That is one of the things people are going to be able to listen to in this exhibit. We have a sound chamber as we call it. You can dial up the sound of a dwell in you condyle of the sound of a Dauphin. And learn a bit -- not only how they make the sounds -- how far these travel. An idea of what the purpose of them is. There is another part of the exhibit called search and destroy where we follow a sperm whale diving after squid. And you hear how he uses echolocation basically sonar. Reflects back and find a squid. You not only sound in singing but also song as hunting -- is one of those places -- pieces. Wells you sound in different ways. You also have as I understand it not just -- is not just about Wales but it is about Wales has meant to people. And so there are on exhibit some pieces of art -- and a cultural artifacts that have been developed and made in honor of wells throughout the year's perspective there certainly is. There are pieces made from whalebone -- from the Pacific and from the New Zealand itself. There is also things like the front of a house. Of a traditional house. That incorporates well-designed into it. Honors the tradition that tried had with Wales. And just below that is -- as the story was told -- of why wells were so important to that tried. Tom -- is Pat was saying the exhibit addresses not only the celebration of Wales but also the threats that they face from people and climate change. We're all familiar with the fact that the great wells were slaughtered and an industrial scale. This the moratorium unwilling has been in place for a number of decades we have seen some well populations rebounding -- certainly the humpbacks are great example. The threats today are from shipping, from pollution, from entanglement, -- a number of well populations are rebounding. Of the cost we can see blue wells, humpback whales -- just this last year we had a -- well that was found dead unfortunately. It shows the populations are offshore. Do you think in any way this exhibit might change the way people think about Wales? We try not to take and angle of telling people what they should think. But what we do is represent a lot of the information. We hope that people will think about these things and come to their own conclusions. We look at even using -- New Zealand up to 1965 was wailing. That point we saw a huge drop in well numbers around New Zealand. We realized this was not sustainable. So we got out of wailing in 1965. In 1972, we rejoin the commission but this time as a defender of Wales. Government can change -- It opens the Saturday continues into September at the San Diego natural history Museum and Balboa Park. At the speaking with Dr. Tom Demere. And Pat Stodard. Thank you so much. Thank you

The San Diego Natural History Museum is opening its new exhibition "Whales: Giants of the Deep" on March 19.

The exhibition features specimens from the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa whale collection and two fully-articulated sperm whale skeletons. The exhibit also provides visitors with the latest in international cetacean research.

In addition, the exhibition will inform visitors about the evolution of whales from land to sea creatures, the history of whaling in New Zealand and the biology of whales.

"Whales: Giants of the Deep" runs through Sept. 5 and is part of a collaboration between Balboa Park museums that have been inspired by the San Diego Zoo's centennial celebration, "Part of the Pride." The collaboration will bring various animal-themed exhibitions to Balboa Park this year.

Curator Thomas Deméré with the Department of Paleontology at the San Diego Natural History Museum and Pat Stodard, touring exhibitions manager at the Museum of New Zealand, will discuss the exhibition Monday on Midday Edition.