In Pictures: Natural History Museum to open Coral Reefs: Secret Cities of the Sea show

By Culture24 Reporter | 19 June 2014

Pictures from the Natural History Museum's major exhibition on coral reefs, announced for next spring

Click on the picture to launch the gallery

Panoramic views, displayed on 180-degree screens in high definition, await visitors at the Natural History Museum’s navigation of more than 200 coral specimens next year, including specimens collected by Darwin aboard the HMS Beagle between 1831 and 1836, the giant washing machine-sized Turbinaria coral, venomous, blue-ringed octopuses and tiny sponge crabs.

The Coral reefs of shallow tropic waters are home to almost a quarter of all living species in the sea, depended on by more than 500 million people despite making up only around 0.1% of the Earth’s surface

The benefits they provide, including fishing, tourism and protection from storms, are estimated to be worth more than £200 billion each year.

Although they can appear rock-like, they are actually colonies of tiny animals related to jellyfish, with limestone skeletons.

They grow incredibly slowly – sometimes as little as one or two millimetres a year. Their high sensitivity to changes in the ocean, such as temperature, pollution and acidity, means they can act as early warning signals of changing conditions in the oceans.

A quarter are damaged beyond repair, with many under serious threat.

  • Coral Reefs: Secret Cities of the Sea opens at the Natural History Museum, London on March 27 2015.

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