(National Museum Ireland-Natural History)  Made and dispersed worldwide during the Victorian era by the glass artists Leopold and Rudolph Blaschka, the models are visually dynamic, yet exact glass replicas of marine invertebrate species observed and collected from our 19th century oceans. Artistic masterpieces in their own right, these models existed as invaluable educational resources and scientific tools due to their meticulous detail and exacting craftsmanship.  The models stand today as stunning documents of marine biodiversity, and as such, remain a wholly underappreciated tool for educating the public on natural and human threats to biodiversity in our oceans. In some cases, specific models are the only accurate replicas of now extinct marine invertebrate species.  Understanding marine invertebrates is critical to understanding and acknowledging a decline in marine biodiversity. Marine invertebrates make up 97% of all living species in the world, sustain both marine and terrestrial ecosystems, and are endangered due to human threats such as pollution, overfishing, climate change, ocean acidification, habitat degradation, and invasive species. Propagating this knowledge is both timely and necessary because without significant change, according to UNESCO, more than half of the world’s marine species will stand on the brink of extinction by 2100. Furthermore, it is doubtful that  we  as a species can survive without marine invertebrates because they are the foundation for essential food chains and ecosystems.  The Blaschka invertebrate models offer a unique opportunity to communicate this crucial, timely message. As masterful works of art, they instill a sense of wonder in viewers. As science artifacts, they prove a decline in marine biodiversity. This duality can be used to positively and creatively educate the public on threats to our oceans.  The Blaschka models photographed here belong to the National Museum Ireland – Natural History. Ireland has the most models in the world – with a total of 952 models existing in six separate collections across the country. The National Museum Ireland - Natural History houses the largest collection of models in Ireland, and the second largest collection in the world. I have been working with the museum since 2016 to photograph, catalogue, and research their collection in an effort to standardize the digital preservation of Blaschka invertebrate models worldwide.
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