New Bedford Whaling Museum  Expands Whales Today Exhibition

Using decades of scientific research to teach whale ecology, ocean health, and whale conservation

September 20, 2017

New Bedford, Mass. – The New Bedford Whaling Museum is launching a major initiative to expand and update Whales Today, its whale ecology and conservation exhibition. The first phase of the expansion opens Thursday, September 28 as the Museum incorporates the U.S. Navy’s Stewards of the Sea: Defending Freedom, Protecting the Environment interactive exhibition. The Museum will host an opening reception on Thursday, September 28 from 6 pm to 8 pm. This event is free and open to the public. Register by calling 508-997-0046 or go to

Stewards of the Sea is on loan from Fleet Command and focuses on marine mammal bioacoustics research performed by the Naval Underwater Warfare Center (NUWC). The Navy’s exhibit will enhance the educational content of Whales Today along with the Museum’s William A. Watkins Collection of Marine Mammal Sound Recordings and Data and the William A. Watkins and William E. Schevill Collection of Images and Instruments. The exhibition will also feature scientific equipment donated or loaned by the Navy and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute (WHOI), and other objects from the Museum’s collections.

In 2014, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution gifted two extraordinary collections to the Whaling Museum: The William A. Watkins Collection of Marine Mammal Sound Recordings and Data and the William A. Watkins and William E. Schevill Collection of Images and Instruments. Together, these two collections helped launch the modern whale conservation movement, and they continue to inform cetacean research and contemporary conservation policy. Both collections are integrally connected with the U.S. Navy, which provided the first platforms and funding for Schevill and Watkins in this groundbreaking project.

Stewards of the Sea features scientific equipment used to capture sounds and other data on marine mammals and their habitat. Through the use of hands-on activities, games, videos and immersive scenarios, visitors can learn more about shipboard-generated plastic waste management, mitigation measures the Navy employs to avoid harming marine species during training and testing activities, the science of sound, and research conducted by the Navy to better understand the effects of man-made sound, such as sonar, on marine mammals.

“The Whales Today expansion will allow Museum visitors to learn more about marine mammal conservation efforts and how our interaction with these giants of the deep has evolved over time,” said Chief Curator Dr. Christina Connett.

The Whaling Museum is home to the world’s largest and most comprehensive collection on the subject of whaling, with a mission to educate and interest all the public in the historic interaction worldwide of humans with whales. The Whales Today exhibition expansion will enhance the visitor’s understanding of whale ecology and biology, as well man’s 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 exploration, mythology, and literature.

For images contact:
Tina Malott
Director of Marketing & Public Relations
New Bedford Whaling Museum


Two humpback whales engaging in bubble-net feeding. (Acquired under National Marine Fisheries Service Permit 17355-01 and NOAA Class G Notification 2015-ESA-4-NOAA flight authorization, by John Durban, Southwest Fisheries Science Center, NMFS, NOAA; and Michael Moore, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution).

US Navy Stewards of the Sea