March 21 - Whale fossils and skeletons visit New York's American Museum of Natural History. Sharon Reich reports.
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This 58-foot or 17-meter male sperm whale skeleton was found by a local tribe on New Zealand's shore. Now, it's the centerpiece of a traveling exhibit at New York's American Museum of Natural History.
John Flynn, a curator for "Giants of the Deep" says the exhibit gives people an up close look at more than 20 skulls and skeletons of whales and examines the various ways people looked at the mammal as an important natural resource.
SOUNDBITE: Exhibit co-curator John Flynn saying (English):
"So harvesting them for food, for oil, bone and so on in the early days, then commercial whaling, which then led to conservation efforts recognizing that whales were highly endangered as they were being depleted, but then also the sort of, reverence and awe that many people feel about these magnificent creatures."
Visitors who want a more tactile experience can get an idea of just how big a whale is by climbing inside this life-sized model of a blue whale heart.
Rhonda Paku who is a senior curator at the New Zealand museum that is touring the exhibition, says she hopes the exhibition sheds light on the role whales have played in ancient cultures.
SOUNDBITE: Rhonda Paku, senior curator at the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, saying (English):
"As long as people feel a human connection to them, as we do, and we have common stories and traditions to share around them, then we're more likely to, through our emotions, driven from our emotions and our association to them, we're more likely to protect them."
"Giants of the Deep" opens on March 23rd.