El ojo de la Ballena

The project arises from a deep scientific research on the neuroprotection of the retina and the way in which whale eyesight works, which the artist and professor of Cell Biology at the University of the Basque Country, Elena Vecino, carried out with her team after recovering the eye of a large fin whale in Sopela, a cetacean, 18 meters long and weighing 20 tons, which appeared stranded and badly injured on the beach in February 2019, and which could not be saved despite the effort made by biology specialists and other volunteers who came to the coast that morning.

Composed of about twenty scientific-artistic photographs of the retina of a whale, enlarged and colored, the project presents, in a visual and attractive way, the conclusions of a rigorous scientific research that has allowed to know some aspects of the vision of whales.

The works have been made with different microscopes that allow magnifying up to 10,000 times the real size to see in detail the tiny parts of the whale’s eye, which show, according to the author, that “although macroscopically we are different, microscopically we are very similar”.

Also on display is part of the skeleton, a skull, some vertebrae and the jaws of a whale, which after the blue whale is the largest mammal on the planet, with the aim of inviting visitors to discover its dimensions. Among the jaws, plastic collected on the beach where it was found is exhibited to raise awareness about one of the main causes of death of these large cetaceans: the plastic accumulated in the seas. We are dealing with a filtering species, which means that they cannot discriminate between food and plastics.

Through different adapted elements, a multisensory visit is offered. For this purpose, textured panels have been placed under the works, so that they can be perceived by touch; the signs are in Braille; the pavement has markings and podo-touch tape and NFC technology has been installed so that the information arrives directly to the personal terminal.

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