World Whale Day
As a part of Grenada Sailing Week, our Education Director, Shelley and our Sustainability Director, Robyn traveled to the island and taught local Grenadian children about marine science.
We packed up some KELP (Kids Environmental Lesson Plans) kits and visited Grace Lutheran, Grenada Montessori and the Secret Harbour Yacht Club to educate students about what lives in their waterways, in particular whales. Over 15 species have been sighted swimming near Grenada, including sperm whales, orcas, bottlenose dolphins and humpback whales. We focused on teaching the kids about humpback whales, which are found in almost every ocean, and their food source, plankton.
Here are the three fun activities:
How long is a whale?
All you need is a piece of rope cut to 46 feet, the average size of a humpback whale. All of the students grabbed onto the rope and stretched it out. They were in complete awe of the size! You can also have the kids lie down head to toe along the rope to see how many students it would take to be the same length as a humpback whale. It is a simple activity that gives the kids a sense of how large these creatures can grow.
What do baleen whales eat?
Humpback whales use their baleen to filter plankton and small fish out of the water. Before we went to the schools, we collected plankton off nearby docks with a children’s plankton net, which you can also build yourselves with the What’s Hiding in the Water? KELP kit. Using magnifying glasses, the kids identified different types of zooplankton and learned about how much food humpback whales need to eat to sustain their size.
How do humans impact humpback whales?
Finally, we played a fun, interactive game called Whale Food Chain Jenga. In this modified version of Jenga, the blocks are colored to represent different parts of the food chain (phytoplankton, zooplankton, krill and small fish, and whales). Students remove or put back blocks based on information they read on cards and see how humans can have a negative or positive impact on the whales’ food chain.
To wrap up the lesson, we asked all of the students what they could do to help protect whales and their surrounding waters. The kids all chimed in with things they could do in their daily lives to make a difference on their island including beach cleanups, using reusable bags and water bottles and spreading the message to their family and friends.