‘Coral Reefs, Secret Cities Of The Sea’ Exhibition

June 10, 2014

Bermuda-based Catlin Group Limited is partnering with the Natural History Museum in London to present a major exhibition that will explore the importance and beauty of coral reefs.

‘Coral Reefs: Secret Cities of the Sea’ will include a live coral reef; the opportunity for visitors to take a virtual dive to explore coral reefs around the world; and more than 200 natural specimens such as corals, fish and fossils. The exhibition, to be held at the Natural History Museum, will open on 27 March 2015 and run through September 2015.

Coral Reef Image 2

For the past three years, Catlin has sponsored the Catlin Seaview Survey, a series of scientific expeditions utilising pioneering underwater imaging technology to study the changes occurring to coral reefs, one of the most distinctive features of our planet’s oceans.

Catlin sponsors ocean science research – including the Catlin Seaview Survey and the Catlin Arctic Survey [2009 to 2011] – to collect impartial, freely available data that will increase scientists’ understanding of changes to our oceans and how these changes could affect future generations.

Tropical coral reefs are found in shallow waters and are home to almost a quarter of all living species in the sea. While coral reefs only make up around 0.1 per cent of the earth’s surface, more than 500 million people depend on them for their livelihood. The benefits they provide – such as fishing, tourism, pharmaceutical research and protection from storms – are estimated to be worth billions of dollars a year.

Although corals can appear rock-like, they are actually colonies of tiny animals that are related to jellyfish but with limestone skeletons that create the rocky seascapes. Corals are highly sensitive to changes in the ocean, such as temperature, pollution and acidity. Coral reefs and the enormous variety of life they host can act as early warning signals that can alert us about conditions in the ocean.

Stephen Catlin, Chief Executive of Catlin Group Limited, said: “Coral reefs serve as an important indicator of critical changes currently taking place in our oceans. The Catlin Seaview Survey has been producing independent scientific data for the past three years to help scientists learn more about coral reefs’ health and future sustainability. We at Catlin are delighted to join with the Natural History Museum to help everyone learn more about both the majesty and the importance of coral reefs.”


Dr Ken Johnson, coral researcher at the Natural History Museum, comments: “Coral reefs are not simply beautiful environments; they provide food, income and storm protection for many millions of people around the world. 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 coral reefs. 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 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.”

The stunning imagery captured by the Catlin Seaview Survey will be an integral part of the exhibition. Visitors to ‘Coral Reefs: Secret Cities of the Sea’ will be able to feel what it is like to navigate through coral reefs via high-definition panoramic views displayed on special screens.

The exhibition will also contain more than 200 specimens from the Natural History Museum’s vast collections, including some collected by Charles Darwin on his HMS Beagle expedition from 1831-1836, a giant washing machine-sized Turbinaria coral, and some of the strange and spectacular creatures that call the reefs home, from the venomous blue-ringed octopus to tiny sponge crabs.

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Category: All, Environment