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Video: Underwater adventures at the Horniman Museum
Ever wondered about the creatures which plumb the depths of the coral reef? HELOISE WOOD gets a guided tour of the Horniman Museum to learn more.
"ONE square metre of coral reef in this area contains the same number of species as a hectare of Amazonian rainforest," said Horniman Museum aquarium curator Jamie Craggs.
As he showed me the underwater world he captured on film I was sure the sound of my jaw hitting the floor could be heard echoing through the corridors.
Rainforest of the Sea features a range of spectacular photos he took whilst working as an underwater cameraman off the coast of Borneo, southeast Asia, in 2003.
He pointed to a photo showing a turtle silhouetted in a wave and said: "You have to mimic the movement of water when you’re underwater and not breathe because the bubbles will disturb them.
"You’re not taught how to do it - it’s just trial and error."
The nature expert said during the six month Borneo experience he lived in a shack and could see waves beneath the planks of his bedroom floor.
He said: "There was this one spot we called turtle tomb where all these turtles ended up in this one spot by mistake because it was an underwater cave, like a vacuum, and they couldn’t get out.
"The visibility was amazing because there was no sediment.
"Normally turtles don’t get lost because they have this incredible inbuilt GPS system so they can travel thousands of miles away."
Although Mr Craggs, a childhood David Attenborough fan, maintained he didn't have a favourite underwater animal, he recognised some capture people’s imagination more than others.
He said: "Everyone loves seahorses. The male gets pregnant and carries the baby round in a pouch like a kangaroo.
"They’re monogamous creatures and the man is always bugging the woman so he can get pregnant.
"We watch them do a little dance together each morning in the aquarium - it’s amazing to see."
The keen conservationist hopes the exhibition will draw attention to how the coral reef is being affected by climate change and certain trades.
He said: "Coral reefs have been around for 400 million years are jam-packed with life and colour. A quarter of all marine life is found on coral reefs yet they only cover 0.1 per cent of the ocean floor and they’re being diminished all the time."
Overfishing, pollution, climate change and increasing carbon dioxide causing ocean acidification, have resulted in around 25 per cent of the world’s reefs being functionally extinct.
Mr Craggs finished the tour by telling me how the museum’s founder - tea trader and philanthropist Frederick Horniman - wanted to "bring the world to Forest Hill". It seems this amazing exhibition reveals how much of that world is in danger.
Rainforest of the Sea runs until September 15 at the Horniman Museum, London Road, Forest Hill.
For more information, visit horniman.ac.uk