Haihai (meaning Sea Sea), a baby Minke whale, is the star feature exhibit of this blockbuster exhibition. At 3.08 meters high, 6.2 meters in length, 2.55 meters in chest circumference and weighing in at 3000kg, it is an awesome sight! Hai Hai has won two world records (the world’s first plastinated ocean Mammal; and the world’s first plastinated specimen of a whale displaying its internal organs and structure). This exhibit is a true “Spirit of The Ocean”.
They are named after their incredibly long thresher-like tail fin, 50-100% of the length of their body. They can use this as a weapon to swipe and stun prey.
They typically live alone but may join up for hunting.
Thresher sharks are able to breach from the water, often performing twists and turns much like a dolphin.
Unusually for sharks, threshers are warm blooded, meaning they can control their internal body temperature.
They do not have a specific breeding season, but give birth to 2-4 live young at a time, known as ‘pups’. They can live up to age 20 or more, but mature late, with females reaching breeding age around 8-14 years.
All dolphin species have streamlined bodies, and modified front limbs to form flippers, making them extremely efficient swimmers.
All have a layer of blubber to insulate them against the cold of the water.
Males will mate with multiple females in one year, whilst females tend only to mate every two to three years, producing an offspring for which they bear sole responsibility in the spring/summer.
Dolphins are regarded as one of the most intelligent animals on earth. They are highly social animals and communicate effectively with one another using a series of clicks and whistles, as well as potentially jumping and spinning out of the water.
Dolphins sleep with one side of their brain at a time.
They live up to 70 years old, making them the longest living cartilaginous fish.
They can dive to depths of up to 1200m, but are traditionally considered to be coastal dwellers.
The great white’s darker upper colouration and lighter underside make it well camouflaged to sneak up on prey by blending in with the ocean below, and the sky above.
They have an excellent sense of smell, able to detect one drop of blood in 100l of water. They also have a 6th sense; using an organ called the ‘ampullae of Lorenzini’ to sense the electromagnetic field of any moving animal in the water.
Unusually, the great white is capable of lifting its head out of the water to look for prey, known as ‘spy hopping’, which is also carried out by many marine mammals, such as whales.
Whale sharks are estimated to live between 70 and 100 years, reaching sexual maturity at around age 25-30.
The females produce eggs, but give birth to live young, and keep sperm from one mating to produce a steady stream of offspring over a longer time period.
Each whale shark has its own unique pattern of spots, much like human fingerprints.
Females can produce more eggs than any other known vertebrate in the world, up to 300 million at a time.
It resembles simply a fish head with a tail.
Its main body is flattened laterally, with its name Mola meaning ‘millstone’ in Latin, reflecting its brown/grey, rough skin and round shape. The English name sunfish refers to its habit of basking in sunlight at the water surface, although they spend more time hunting at depth.
The reason it can grow so large is that its bony structures are composed of the lighter material cartilage.
Its teeth are fused into a beak shape, and it has pharyngeal teeth in its throat.
They are harmless to people, but can be very curious and will often approach divers.
Sliced Shark will let you see cleared what’s inside the Shark’s full body.
Its name is derived from the unique shape of its forehead.
It is typically coloured shades of brown above and yellow/white below.
Its mouth is on the underside of the head, and is made up of flat, plate-like teeth for grinding the shells of its prey.
It has a small, poisonous, barbed spine behind its dorsal fin and a long tail.
Its fertilised eggs are hatched internally, giving birth “live”, usually to a single offspring.
They make long spring migrations in large schools and are thought to cause damage to seagrass and commercial shellfish beds.