Whales Today

Jacobs Family Gallery | Dr. Roderick H. Turner Gallery | Clifford W. Ashley Gallery
Exhibition Opened: February 18, 2019

An exhibition dedicated to the science and behavior of whales, their cultural impact, the current threats to their survival, and empowering all to support conservation efforts. The Whaling Museum tells the story of human interaction with whales in the world’s oceans. The narrative is diverse and rich, including not just the history of whaling, but also the cultural impact of this connection in the arts, in cultural exchange, and on exploration, mythology, and literature.

How can we address mankind’s interactions with whales over time without better understanding what whales are and how they live?


The Whales Today exhibition provides an introduction to and an examination of the status of whales in today’s oceans and mankind’s historic and current interactions with these magnificent mammals. From this point of view, and only after this introduction, will the visitor explore the broader history of human cultural and commercial connections with whales and whaling.

Explore whale biology, behavior, and habitat, particularly as these themes relate to the whale skeletons on display. Learn more about what whales are, where they live, their diversity in speed, size, and communication patterns, their evolution, and migration.

Particularly, find out how these traits make them vulnerable to challenges currently facing whales: ship strikes, entanglements, and noise pollution. Learn about conservation efforts and eco-tourism as a way to create positive change. This will include information on current news and legislation, and offer real ways people can have an impact – from recycling to writing elected officials.

The history of marine mammal research will connect the past with the present as the exhibits will discuss how we know what we know about whales, from historic baseline bioacoustics recordings informing policy change in noise pollution mitigation, to 19th century whaler’s logbooks informing 21st century marine mammal population studies, to 20th and 21st century whale tagging and data processing.

Watkins Marine Mammal Sound Database

The William A. Watkins Collection of Marine Mammal Sound Recordings consists of recordings of various marine mammal species collected over a span of seven decades in a wide range of geographic areas by Watkins and many others.


Whales in the News
Click here to view news articles about whales.


BiologyHabitat  |  Feeding Communication & Social Behavior  |  Research  |  Current Threats Conservation Efforts Ocean Stewardship  |  Cultures of Whaling  |  Seals and Society

expo for Biology showing whales map of migrating whales
feeding behavior bubble net breaching whale
Watkins working with instruments whale entangled in netting and rope
group of men signing protective measures two logos
cultures of whaling Seal closeup of face and whiskers


Banner Caption: (detail) Right Whale, Eubalaena glacialis by Richard Ellis


Whales Today is underwritten by the David P. Wheatland Charitable Trust, the Sidney J. Weinberg, Jr. Foundation, and the William M. Wood Foundation, with significant support from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, and the Naval Undersea Warfare Center Division, Newport, Rhode Island.