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Species activity

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Knowledge building

The number, range, and growth of the plants and animals in the ocean are shifting in ways that are difficult to predict.

Read Species independently or in a group.

In a class knowledge building circle, discuss the following questions.

  1. This chapter talks about different groups of plants and animals living in Canada’s oceans: including phytoplankton, zooplankton, plants, invertebrates, fish, marine mammals, seabirds, and sea turtles. Provide some examples of Canada’s marine species.
  2. Why is it important for ocean scientists to study all these groups of living things? Why do ocean scientists study animals like seabirds, even if seabirds don’t spend their whole lives underwater?
  3. What are some challenges to learning about a species’ abundance and distribution in Canada’s oceans?
  4. Animals that are normally occasional visitors to Canada’s waters are increasingly being captured. What are some of the concerns for new or invasive species arriving in Canada’s oceans?


Educator overview:

In this activity, students will be divided into pairs and take on the role of different species of whales. The pairs will become whale ‘pen pals’ and use research and creative writing skills to tell one another about their unique lives and adaptations.

Students can refer to Spotlight: Whale Tales in the Species chapter. They will also need to conduct their own independent research about their whale species. A resource they can use is the Cetacean species and conservation webpage from Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

Pen pal category I
North Pacific Humpback Whale
North Atlantic Humpback Whale

Pen pal category II
Southern Resident Killer Whale
Canadian Arctic Killer Whale

Pen pal category III
North Pacific Right Whale
North Atlantic Right Whale

Student worksheet

Species activity worksheet
(PDF, 130 KB)

Hello, my name is __________ and I am a ________________.

I’ve been so busy! I’m glad I finally have time to write you this letter.

Here’s what’s new with me:

My favourite foods are: _____________________________________________

The habitat where I live is: _________________________________________________________________

My friends and family are: ___________________________________________

Lately I’ve been worried about: _______________________________________

I’d like to go on a big trip to: __________________________________________

My unique talent is: _________________________________________________

Sea you soon!

Signed, _________________________

Canada’s Connected Oceans

  1. Building Links within Canada’s Oceans Now 2020
    • Read How We Learn in Canada’s Oceans Now 2020. Describe a type of technology that could be used to study the whale species you pretended to be during the pen pal activity.
  2. Exploring Beyond Canada’s Oceans Now 2020
    • Discover Canada’s shark species.Watch the following Fisheries and Oceans Canada videos and describe how the sharks behave.
    • The purpose of the narwhal’s tusk baffled scientists for centuries. Discuss as a class what adaptation they think tusk provides for narwhals. Following the brainstorming session, watch the following video from the Fisheries and Oceans Canada.
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