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Dive into the world of coral reefs and explore the diversity of life beneath the waves – full exhibits revealed

Take a journey through these spectacular seascapes and discover why they are so important for life on our planet in Coral Reefs: Secret Cities of the Sea. This new exhibition runs from 27 March at the Natural History Museum in partnership with Catlin Group Limited.

See over 250 specimens from the Museum’s coral, fish and marine invertebrate collection, marvel at a live coral reef with 40 fish species and 26 species of coral, and travel to some of the world’s most famous coral reefs through a 180 degree panoramic virtual dive.

Dr Ken Johnson, coral reefs researcher at the Natural History Museum says: “We admire the beauty of coral reefs, but we often overlook just how vital they for the everyday lives of hundreds of millions of people around the world. Not only are they home to a diverse range of life, but reefs provide valuable food, income and coastal protection.

Coral reefs are complex cities of the sea, with inhabitants playing differing roles and together, maintaining the health of these amazing ecosystems even as accelerating human impacts threaten them worldwide”

Sir Michael Dixon, Director of the Natural History Museum adds; “Coral reefs and the creatures that inhabit them are being studied every day here at the Museum. The specimens and scientific research in this exhibition help us understand and predict the effect of human impact and climate change on our oceans, one of the biggest challenges facing our natural world today.”

Highlights include:

• Six corals collected by Charles Darwin during his voyage on HMS Beagle from 1831 to 1836. They illustrate his first ever scientific theory, all about coral reef formation.
• Giant Turbinaria coral – one metre wide with many layers, it was home to thousands of marine creatures.
• Giant clam – weighing the same as 300 bags of sugar, this is the largest of all living molluscs. It is currently at threat of extinction due to overfishing.
• Giant grouper – a gentle giant that is easy to catch, and vulnerable to overfishing. At over three metres long; similar in size to a large motorcycle, it is the largest bony fish on coral reefs.
• Sea fan – a delicate lace-like structure that helps to filter food out of the water and is home to seahorses and nudibranchs.

You’ll also see 100 fish and 26 corals make the four tonne aquarium their home and get close to life on the seafloor through the virtual dive from the Catlin Seaview Survey.

Stephen Catlin, Chief Executive of Catlin Group Limited, says: “For years, the beauty of coral reefs was largely appreciated only by those able to visit the reefs first-hand. Besides compiling important scientific data, the Catlin Seaview Survey has captured unique underwater images that allow anyone anywhere to explore a variety of coral reefs around the world.”

Using stunning 180 degree panoramic imagery, the Liquid Galaxy Google Earth experience will guide you along the Great Barrier Reef, Tubbahata Reef (Philippines), Hourglass Reef (Bermuda), and Komodo Island (Indonesia) through a chamber of circular screens.

Dates and times: 27 March – 13 September 2015, 10.00 – 17.50
Visitor enquiries: 020 7942 5000
Admission: Adult £10*, child and concession £4.50*, family £24*.
Adult £9, child and concession £4, family £21.
Free for Members, Patrons and children under four.
Nearest tube: South Kensington
Website: www.nhm.ac.uk/coralreefs 
Twitter: #coralreefs

* A voluntary donation is included in our admission ticket prices. If you are a UK taxpayer and pay the ticket price including donation, the Natural History Museum can reclaim the tax on the whole ticket price under the Gift Aid scheme. For every £100 worth of tickets sold, we can claim an extra £25 from the Government. This means you can further support the work of the Museum, at no extra cost to you.

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