Marine Mammal Alliance Nantucket (MMAN) has opened the door to the Nantucket Historical Association (NHA) Whaling Museum with inclusion of their ’new’ contemporary display “20th Century Whaling, to Save the Whales, to a New Era”.
In the past the NHA has had a focus on historical whaling and the impacts that has had on whale populations today. This new exhibit highlights what is happening today in terms of research and conservation of the North Atlantic right whale population.
The NHA exhibit will close the loop and bring the public’s awareness into the 21st Century. It begins with 20th century whaling when far more whales were ‘taken’ in just decades than throughout the entirety of previous centuries. Moving into a display of an old T-shirt with “Save the Whales,” the exhibit explains one of the most successful and founding environmental movements in modern history. The audience will then move on to discover ‘disentanglement’ tools from the Center for Coastal Studies. The exhibit ends with the MMAN signage and will eventually include a computer screen with links to contemporary (day to day), information on cetaceans world wide.“As with Nantucket’s culture, this exhibit brings the museum audience full circle into the 21st century, exploring attitudes and understanding of the NOW — by providing facts about the contemporary issues cetaceans face juxtaposed with historic realities. Together these inform us.
Culture is built on history and the ability to pass information down from generation to generation. This knowledge leads each generation to a better understanding of their environment. It is important to remember history begins the moment the words come out of our mouths. Just ask a whale!”
Historical commercial whaling was devastating to whale populations all over the world and the North Atlantic right whale population is no exception.
With time, the threats to the North Atlantic right whales have changed. This population is now threatened to the point of extinction due mostly to boat strikes and entanglement, some data even suggesting that 5 out of every 6 individuals having been entangled in fishing net at least once in their life. Although horrific, the process whaling used to hunt and kill the whale was relatively quick, whereas now injuries from boat strikes or entanglement cause the whale to perish over a longer period of time.
Recent research has shown that because of these new threats the North Atlantic right whales are in danger of extinction in the next 23 years. With no new calves seen during the breeding period this year the outlook is looking grim for this population.
Though the situation does not look good, change is on the horizon. Congress recently proposed a bill to both the House and the Senate known as the SAVE the Right Whale Act. This bill proposes that over the next 10 years $5 million per year will be dedicated to the conservation of the North Atlantic Right Whale population. Researchers and politicians alike are taking notice of this conservation problem and are together hoping to steer it in a positive direction. The NHA exhibit is a view at this population and what is being done to help them be around for future generations.
The MMAN also organized to have Sena Wazer and Patrick Ramage speak during the Summer Lecture Series (info here):
Find out more about Marine Mammal Alliance Nantucket here: www.nantucketmarinemammals.org