Sneak Peek at The Smithsonian’s “Sant Ocean Hall Exhibit”


I was lucky enough to get invited to a preview of the National Museum of Natural History’s newest exhibit on the ocean. Now, as some may know, I’m a huge tropical fish enthusiast so I was quite excited to check it out. The press material says:

“Taking over 5 years to develop, Sant Ocean Hall was created in partnership with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to show the ocean’s history and its importance in contemporary society. It is the only exhibition in the country devoted exclusively to a global view of the ocean.”

They have a terrific Web site that will give you a taste. The exhibit located at 10th and Constitution, NW opens to the public Saturday.

The space it self was completely renovated and filled with top of the line technology and exhibits. Pictured above you can see a replica of a north atlantic right whale named Phoenix. We were told there are only 400 living right whales today and the replica is of a living whale that was spotted only a few weeks ago. There were dozens of other exhibits and audio visual aids. The exhibits are divided into 12 distinct sections covering 23,000 square feet. One pretty cool feature was of a 24 foot giant squid preserved in a 1,800 gallon tank. There was also a cool 3-D “science on a sphere” globe that shows four narrated programs.

What I enjoyed most though was the 1,500 gallon Indo-Pacific coral reef aquarium.

If you want to learn everything there is to know about the Ocean then this is the exhibit for you. But just remember it’s not an aquarium. If you go in thinking you’ll find lots of fish you will be disappointed. I imagine this will be a great spot for thousands of 7th grade biology field trips. Lots of photos after the jump.

“Science on a Sphere”

My favorite part:

Giant squid:

Great White Shark Jaw:

Dang forgot the name of this fish but there was a great New Yorker article on it. You know, the fish that everyone thought was extinct until a fisherman caught one off the coast of South Africa or something like that…:

Main section of the hall:

10 Comment

  • That ancient-looking fish is a coelacanth. They were thought to be long extinct until a fisherman caught one in the early 20th century.

  • off subject I think POP should introduce an OPEN THREAD once a day at noon perhaps? like some other blogs do. For instance right now I just got to thinking if the new Sit Down Bens Chili Bowl is open? anybody know when it opens?

  • I wanna be a coelacanth when I grow up.

  • Awesome! I can’t wait to go!

    This great white shark jaw got me to thinking…would it be worse to be chomped in half by these suckers and eaten or swallowed whole? I mean looks like you could easily end up sliding down the guys throat without him once chewing…I think I would prefer being chomped in half first.

  • nom nom nom! coelacanth! tastes like chicken!

  • FYI: The right whale model is based on a real live Right Whale named Phoenix as the Prince says, and maybe it was most recently spotted as of a few weeks ago, but I can assure you it has been “seen” for much longer than that. There is an amazing amount of knowledge about each of the 400 or so known Right Whales left in the North Atlantic. Each adult can be uniquely identified by their characteristic white patches! Volunteers stand watch and report observations of them, and researches are out and about taking photos and tracking even their poop! There have been great articles about Right Whales in a recent Smithsonian Magazine and the in the lastest National Geographic. And I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention my employer’s website’s Right Whale fact sheet:

    (I work for Defenders of Wildlife,

    I can’t wait to go to the new exhibit!

  • Thanks PoP…I worked a lot on that Hall, and we’re really proud. I’ll be at the black tie opening tonight…want pics? And btw, the jaws are not a Great White, but Carcharodon megaladon, one of the ancestral species to the current Great White, Carcharodon carcharias. 😉 Its often just called Megalodon though.

  • Interestingly enough, 3M corp designed a special chemical to house the giant squid. If they kept it in regular formaldehyde there would be so much of it that it would be a fire hazzard.

    Pheonix, the whale, is also made out of special nonflamable material specially designed for this.

  • The hall looked great, but what I can’t find anywhere is – what does the ‘Sant’ part mean? Is there a Ms. or Mr. Sant somewhere? (No Virginia jokes, please.) Holy oceans?

  • Prince Of Petworth

    There is a Mr. and Mrs. Sant. I think they donated like $20 million to the exhibit or something like that.

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