Thursday, 9 April 2015

Wonderful trip to the Natural History Museum!

I spent yesterday in London with my Mum and Brother, exploring the Natural History Museum and its exhibitions, including 'Corals of Life' and 'Sensational Butterflies'. 

Both were informative, but also captivating. I think that this is due to the live specimens on display, the butterflies and a mini, yet functioning coral reef made up of live individual corals and tropical fish. Although I disagree with keeping animals captive on larger scales, such as SeaWorld and zoos which are run for profit, these smaller scale displays are educational, but also catering to the animals needs. 

First the 'Coral Reefs: Secret Cities of the Sea' exhibition:

I really enjoyed reading about all the different types of coral which were on display around the exhibition. Reading the discoveries of Charles Darwin made me realise how much we've (humans) have learnt because of people like Darwin…but also how much left there is still to learn. There was a good balance between information on the corals themselves and other additional information, such as how they are now threatened by man (what isn't?) Coral reefs are among the most biologically diverse ecosystems on the planet, and if lost will affect countless of marine species. However, it will not only affect the wildlife. If we loose coral reefs, coastal natural disasters will increase in strength, and will affect human's living along the coast. 

The reason that they are becoming very threatened is due to the rise in sea level, restricting the light which the corals get. Other effectors included: more water pollution, rising sea temperatures which causes coral bleaching, and over-fishing which disrupts the food-chains within the coral ecosystems. 

5 things you can do to help coral reefs out a little:
  1. Don't buy plants which have been protected from pesticides, as this can run-off into waterways and pollute the seas. Go Organic!
  2. Support locally fish companies who fish in local waters. 
  3. Recycle, recycle, recycle!
  4. If you go diving amongst coral, never remove any of the coral, and never touch.
  5. Educate others. Let them know what they can do, and why they should be doing it.

Who knew it….corals are animals! Well, most people probably knew it, except me. Unlike plants, corals do not make their own food. Corals are made up of thousands of tiny animals called polyps (a type of invertebrate). 

Then we visited the 'Sensational Butterflies' exhibition:

Like I said earlier, it was amazing to be so close with these live specimens. These butterflies are from all over the world, from almost every continent. The exhibition takes place in a very large marquee-type room, with a meandering trail to follow. The conditions were hot and humid, perfect for butterflies, and there was plenty of fruit around to feed the butterflies and to provide the visitorswith intimate views of the different species.

I can't say I'm a butterfly expert, because I'm not. But they really do fascinate me…particularly how quickly they can fly! They may look almost drunken when there crash landing on a flower in the garden, but they actually fly with great precision. I liked to get unclose shots of the different species, with a plain background so that there beauty wash't missed. 

All the species were so different, varying in size, shape, colour and pattern. Some were so delicate and had such detail on their wings that it almost looked like they had been painted. I liked the shot below as it is showing the huge visual contrast between the different species! The butterfly at the bottom had transparent wings! 

It was pretty hard to get unclose shots, as I only had my 55-250mm lens so that I was prepared if a parakeet flew by whilst walking round London! Even with a relatively long lens, I still managed to get some nice up lose shots of the details of the butterflies. I did have to stand quite far back to take the photos though...

 Finally, we visited the wildlife garden before going to a talk on the evolution of wildlife film-making at the Attenborough Lecture Theatre. In the wildlife garden there was a tree which had a small door on the exterior. When you looked inside, there was a colony of bees working away, behind a perspex panel (whew!) This gave me all sorts of ideas for my patch….you'll have to wait and see.

The photo above is the reflection of reeds and other vegetation in the wildlife gardens's pond. It really reminds me of Claude Monet's work, and even looks more like a painting than a picture. 

I would recommend the two exhibitions to anyone visiting London over the summer. They were both really interesting and reasonably prices. And remember, it's all going to a great cause.