WhaleNet Curr. Activities

Mon, 10 Sep 1994 20:57:16

These are beginning ideas to activities related to WhaleNet.  Help
yourself, alter, use, and enjoy.  Be creative!!
WhaleNet Activities Sheet
Activity 1:  Navigation
	Simple navigation methods can be used to involve mathematics.
  Using latitude and longitude or a system of navigation called LORAN
(Long Range Aid to Navigation) the ship's position can be plotted very
accurately on a navigation chart.  The ship's track can be plotted on a
chart by taking a position check or fix periodically by recording the
time and ship's LORAN coordinates.  Prior to your trip laminate your
chart or cover it with clear contact paper.  The students can use water
soluble fine tip markers to plot the fixes and course as the day
progresses.  Different colors can be used to indicate different species
sightings, etc.  The chart can be reused when the fixes are washed off.
	With the plot of the ship's course a number of activities can be
undertaken.  Plot the vessel's research track and calculate: the distance
covered, the rate of the vessel's travel from point to point (D=R*T), the
depth of water at various points can be found by checking the depth on
the chart at the point of the fix, and the topography of the research
track can be observed (see bathymetry below).
	Students can plot the track of the boat by recording the LORAN
coordinates at preset time intervals, i.e. every 15 minutes and/or at
every sighting of marine mammals, and then plotting these points
(taking a fix) on a chart of the area. (Charts are available for $13.00 or a
bathymetric (fishing) chart for $3.00 through boat yards or boating
magazines.  The bathymetric chart gives a better visualization of the
bottom topography and may be more helpful if a study of bottom
topography is planned.  The bathymetric chart also has some LORAN
lines on it, but not as many as the navigation chart.  NOTE: you only
need two LORAN coordinates to plot a position.)
	Using the research track, students should note locations, depths,
topography, etc. where marine mammals are observed along with the
behavior and activity observed.
Activity 2: Water Testing
	Water testing is an important part of oceanography and whale
research.  Activities such as testing the water temperature, density and
salinity are commonly measured qualities of sea water.  To collect a
water sample notify crew members, wait until the boat stops
COMPLETELY, drop a bucket with a line attached to the handle overboard
and bring up a water sample.  Use a thermometer to measure the
temperature, and a hydrometer to measure the density.  With the density
and temperature, the salinity can be determined using
temp/density/salinity charts or graphs.
	The color of the water, sea state (wave height), wind velocity and
direction, and air temperature are also important bits of information to
the researcher.  This information is listed on the data sheet.
Activity 3:  Plankton Tow and Analysis
	A plankton tow and analysis explains a great deal about why the
whales are where they are.  The plankton can be examined with hand
lenses or microscopes, and depending on the class age various degrees
of plankton analysis can be conducted.  Data on density of plankton,
identification of plankton types, etc. can be included.
	A discussion and development of food chains and food webs would
be a natural follow-up to the plankton tow.  Phytoplankton (plants) and
zoo-plankton (animals) can be observed under normal conditions.  If
only one plankton net can be purchased choose a phytoplankton net.  It
collects both plant and animal plankton.
Activity 4:  Data Collection
	Data collection should be made on: the location of the observation,
the species observed, the number of each species, behavior of the
organism, and any other information that might be important.
	Data sheets should be photocopied from the one included in
advance of the trips and research groups can be assigned in any
manner appropriate to the class.  Groups can either be assigned to take
data for the class or groups can be assigned to take data throughout the
trip.  It would be suggested that only one person at a time be assigned to
record the LORAN coordinates in the pilot house, and the captain should
be contacted and talked with about the best procedure prior to the trip.
Some vessels have LORAN receivers in the public cabin, inquire at the
time you make your reservations.
	For more class involvement, additional data can be collected on
the trash and bird sightings.  The Trash Data Table should include time
sighted, location, type of trash, amount of trash, composition of trash,
etc.  The data of the times sighted can be coordinated with the LORAN
recordings to approximate the position of the trash sightings.  Totals of
the trash sightings should be included after the whale sighting
information.  Bird sightings can also be recorded in a similar fashion.
There is a bird sighting bulletin board in EnviroNet, see the EnviroNet
booklet for procedures to input bird data.
Activity 5: Photo-Identification of Whales
	Photo-identification photographs of humpback whales taken on
the cruise should be recorded as follows: date, location, photo taken by
whom, what roll number of film, and what number on the roll.  The
photographs can be used later to identify the whale using a humpback
whale catalogue or they can be mailed to Allied Whale, College of the
Atlantic, Bar Harbor, Maine to be entered into the humpback whale data
Activity 6:  Mathematics
	Plot the complete research track on a chart.  How many miles did
the trip cover?  What was the average speed of the boat from fix to fix,
for the entire trip?  What was the heading (compass direction) on each
leg of the trip?  How many sighting were made for each hour of the
trip?  (This is the "catch effort" used by whalers to compare the
efficiency of a trip.)  This method can also be used to compare different
trips, on different days, locations, boats, etc.
Activity 7:  Bathymetry
	Using graph paper placed along each leg of the research track
the bottom topography can be plotted and displayed.  Fold a piece of
graph paper along a line about one inch from the edge of the paper.
Place the graph paper on the track line drawn on the chart and using a
predetermined scale for depth on the vertical axis, plot the depth of the
bottom on the (vertical) Y-axis vs. appropriate/convenient points on
the (horizontal) X-axis.  Connect the strip profiles for each leg of the
cruise together to show the bottom topography of the entire trip.
	Return to the bottom topography profile and note where on the
surface what species were sighted and what the behavior observed was,
i.e. feeding, logging, traveling, etc.  Is there a pattern of behavior of
the whales or the location of the whales to the bottom topography?  Are
sightings usually made over a specific type of bottom?   Analyze the data
from your trip.
Activity 8:  Topographic Model of the Bottom
	Construct a model of Stellwagen Bank.  Draw lines perpendicular
to the ridge line of the bank about one inch apart.  Have students use
graph paper to make a profile of the bottom on each line.  Glue the
graph paper to pieces of cardboard and cut out the profiles.  Line the
cardboard profiles up one inch apart in clay or similar substance to
hold up the cardboard, and cover with damp cloth or paper.  Press the
cloth or paper down gently to the contour of the cardboard, allow to dry,
and spray with paint and allow to dry.  Use your imagination!
Activity 9: Analysis of Whale Watch Data
	Suggestions for analysis: (1) compare "catch efforts" (number of
sightings of a species for each hour on the whale watch) for different
days, different species, etc.; (2) compare the range of behaviors of
species on a given day; (3) compare data for Jeffrey's Ledge and
Stellwagen Bank on a given day or week; (4) compare numbers of
cow/calf pairs on given days; (5) calculate the number of whales with
killer whale scars; (6) compare the depths where the different species
were observed; (7) compare where most of the sightings were, on the
bank or ledge, over the deep water, etc. or (8) compare numbers of
sightings vs. sea state, cloud cover, wind velocity, etc.
	If you are one of the classrooms not going on a whale watch but
using the whale watch data, use the data sheets to copy data off of the
WhaleNet Bulletin Board.  You can then use the data in the same way as
those that did go on an actual whale watch