Giants of the Sea

For humans during the months of June and July it is whale-watching season, however for the whales it is their migration time. It is the annual period when thousands of these majestic seagoing mammals move from Antarctic waters north to feeding and spawning grounds where they remain until spring when they begin their migration back down south.

Whales were once a source of food, fuel and raw materials for humans, but now they are mostly a source of pleasure. While many species have increased in numbers since the decline of the whaling industry, there are still species that are vulnerable or endangered. Attempts to set up another whale sanctuary were recently rejected by nations who continue to hunt despite opposition from environmentalists.

Activities


Plot the migratory path of several species of whales on a map of the world. Calculate the distances travelled between resting and feeding sites. Provide notes about the whale's behaviour en-route.


Many species of whale store mercury in their bodies at levels that are toxic to people and yet many Japanese consider whale a luxury food. Make a series of consumer education ads to stop people eating whale products.


There are many organisations that support whale conservation, e.g. WorldWide Fund for Nature, Save the Whale Fund, Greenpeace, etc. Write a brief report about one of these organisations and what they do to help protect whales.


Write some bumper stickers for mass production for a whale protection organisation to help them raise funds for their work and increase public awareness about the plight of whales.


Make scale drawings on graph paper of the smallest to largest whale species. Make notes about their habitat and ocean depths they inhabit.


Use a diagram to show where the humpback whale and the killer whale fit in the food chain.


Write a short tale about a monster from the deep. Prepare a front-page story for The Mercury about your monster. Provide details about its common and scientific name, diet, habitat, forms of communication, adaptation to the cold dark pressurised world of the deep ocean, etc.


Design the cover for your new book "From Killing to Conservation". Include details about the author (you), a brief description of the book and quotes from reviewers. Write a Contents page outlining each chapter.


In table format list the many ways in which all parts of the whale were used historically and by whom when whaling was a commercial business. Indicate the modern day replacements for these products.


Write a brief report that answers the following questions. Which whale species are endangered? What and who pose the greatest threat to the survival of all whale species? What do we know about whales today that we didn't know when they were killed commercially. What do you think the future holds for whales?


Pretend that you have been whale-watching during the migration period. Write a detailed account of your experience.


Websites

Whaling
www.whaling.com
Looks at the places where whaling is still going on and efforts to conserve our remaining whales.

Greenpeace Whales Campaign

www.greenpeace.org.au/oceans/whales
Details the campaign to establish global whale sanctuaries, the very latest on whaling and efforts to curb illegal whaling. Take a look at the special animated history of whaling. Also, find out what you what you can do to save the whales.

Whales on the net

http://www.whales.org.au
Looks at many different species of whales and other cetacea, with a stunning photo gallery, and extensive articles on the history of whaling.

Whales!
http://dkd.net/whales
Info on whale watching and whales seen in Australia posted by enthusiasts at Hervey Bay self appointed "Whale watching capital of the world". Includes advice on what to do if you find a beached whale.

Oceans Alive

www.abc.net.au/oceans/alive.htm
Info on sea creatures including whales and school websites which show how they got involved with helping animals and their local beaches. Go to
www.abc.net.au/oceans/whale/spot.htm for the best places to spot whales in Australian waters.

Cetacea
www.cetacea.org
Information on all species of cetaceans, includes latest conservation efforts.


Nature- Humpback Whales

www.pbs.org/wnet/nature/humpback/
One of several special features on whales. It ties in with nature documentaries on the PBS channel in the US but there is still a lot of useful information here. Particularly articles like ``Song of the Sea'' about the songs sung by male humpbacks.

International Whaling Commission

www.iwcoffice.org
Posted by the commission in charge of ensuring that whales are not driven to extinction. Includes an estimate of whale populations.

ORRCA- Organisation for the Resecue and Research of Cetaceans in Australia.

www.orrca.org.au
An Australian organisation specialising in the rescue of stranded marine mammals. Find out how you can get involved.

Books

A Field Guide to the Mammals of Australia

By Peter Menkhorst and Frank Knight

A guide to Australia's mammals including those that live in the sea. This is an invaluable book for those who want to know what they are looking at while they stand on the shoreline (or in the forests) looking at animals in their environment.

Whales

By Peter Haswell

A young reader's guide to whales from the Oxford Reds series with information on different kinds of whales, where and how they live.

Killers of Eden

By Danielle Clode

In the days of whaling in the New South Wales town of Eden a strange relationship developed between killer whales and whalers. The killer whales would alert whalers to the presence of baleen whales and even herd the animals toward the ships.

Ahab's Trade

By Granville Allen Mawer

A look at the whaling industry and its inexorable move south in the 19th Century.

Eyewitness Handbooks- Whales, Dolphins and Porpoises

By Mark Carwardine

An authoritative guide to cetaceans with over 900 illustrations, this handbook is designed to enable you to recognize each species quickly and easily.

Whale's Journey

By Stephen Martin

This text takes the reader on a 12-month journey with humpback whales up and down the east coast of Australia between the Great Barrier Reef and Antarctica, telling the story of whaling along the way. A message of hope and warning, it reveals the human impact on their populations until their protection.

Places

Australian Museum

Since there are no whales in captivity (who's got a tank big enough to hold them) you could do worse than to go to the museum to marvel at the size of the titanic skeleton of a sperm whale in the foyer. There are also skeletons of a sei whale, a pilot whale and a replica of the anatomy of a dolphin which is very similar to that of whales. www.amonline.net.au