A lot can happen in five years. Since 2007, the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has continued to go up, reaching a concentration of 400 parts per million, and with it Arctic sea ice has continued to melt, reaching a record low in 2012. On a more positive note, more than five million square kilometers of ocean have been designated as shark sanctuaries over the same interval.
And just five years ago, the Sant Ocean Hall at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History opened. To celebrate its fifth birthday, three new exhibitions that feature the human relationship to the ocean open today. A completely renovated Living on an Ocean Planet gallery focuses on our connections to the ocean and explores the ocean conservation issues that we face today. (Kind of like the physical version of our "Human Connections" and “Conservation” sections here on the site.)
In addition, two brand-new temporary exhibits opened today, in which science and art join forces. The Brian Skerry photography exhibit, Portraits of Planet Ocean, features twenty striking underwater photographs that capture animals in their element, including some chosen by you. Fragile Beauty: The Art & Science of Sea Butterflies, puts a spotlight on ocean acidification and its effects on pteropods. These small marine gastropods are already being affected by the changing acidity of the ocean, and artist Cornelia Kubler Kavanagh explores their fate through larger-than-life sculptures.
We hope that if you get a chance you will stop by one, or all, of these new exhibits, whether you make a trip to Washington, D.C., or you explore our virtual offerings. And remember—there are many positive ways we can influence our oceans in the next five years.