Humpback flukes up


Lesson 1

by Nancy Stevick


Lesson I: Pre-testing

Pre-test students' knowledge of humpbacks, the North Atlantic, latitude and longitude, use of navigational charts and the research technique of photo-identification


  • Large sheets of paper to write down students' answers
  • Markers (water soluble fine tipped)
  • Map of the United States or, preferably a navigation or bathymetric chart of the North Atlantic
  • Resources such as WhaleNet web site, other web sites, books, journals, etc.
  • Navigation charts are available for ~$14.00 or a bathymetric (fishing) chart for ~$4.50 through boat yards, marine stores, coastal bookstores 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 as part of students' investigations of productivity. Laminate your chart or cover it with clear contact paper. The students can use water soluble fine tip markers to plot whale sightings on the chart. The chart can be reused when the plots are washed off.

    Have students:

    1. identify where the North Atlantic is on the chart or map
    2. discuss its relative size and variance in climate and culture
    3. ask if students know the latitudinal and longitudinal boundaries of the North Atlantic
    4. list the marine mammals found in the North Atlantic
    5. list available food for marine mammals in the North Atlantic
    6. ask if anyone knows the direction of the currents of the North Atlantic and specifically the Gulf of Maine (why is this important information?)

    The teacher can lead a discussion to discover what answers students have for the above inquiries. Students can then search the WhaleNet web site and other resources to check and refine their answers. Alternatively, students can be given a written list of questions and work in small groups using available resources to answer the questions. A discussion can follow to make sure that all students have this basic knowledge.

    Objectives Determine the current knowledge of students as a foundation on which to base the content of future activities. Teachers can refer to the objectives listed at the end of Lessons 2 and 3 if they wish to have more specific objectives for this lesson.

    Evaluation Students will be evaluated on class participation such as attentiveness and involvement in discussions and the accuracy and completeness of their written answers or reports.

    Go Back to Introduction

    Go to Lesson 2

    Go to Lesson 3

    Go to Humpback Whale Catalog

    Recent Information on the Humpback Whale Population

    Smith, T.D., J. Allen, P.J. Clapham, P.S. Hammond, S. Katona, F. Larsen, J. Lein, D. Mattila, P.J. Palsbol, J. Sigurjonsson, P.T. Stevick, and N. Oien. 1999. An Ocean-Basin-Wide mark-recapture study of the north Atlantic Humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae). Marine Mammal Science 15(1):1-32.

    This two year study of humpback whales in the N. Atlantic using a mark-recapture analysis of humpback fluke photographs and biopsies of both breeding and feeding areas of the N. Atlantic provided a population estimate of 10,600 (95% confidence interval 9,300-12,100) for the entire N. Atlantic. These estimates are significantly larger and more precise than estimates made for the 1980's, potentially reflecting population growth. This determined growth of the population may lead to the change in status for this species. This may include "delisting" this species from endangered to threatened, or recovered under the endangered species act (ESA).


    click here

    Pagina Principal