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Ch. 4: Mysteries of the Whale Called 1334 Teacher Sheet

Ch. 4: Mysteries of the Whale Called 1334 Teacher Sheet

Introduction

The "Mysteries of the Whale Called 1334" chapter explores the story of the history and tracking of the right whales. This chapter touches on the human impact of whale poaching and climate change and its effect on the whale population. This teacher sheet provides background information and answers to the questions on the student sheet.


There are many key terms introduced in this chapter that students may not be familiar with. If there are any terms missing on this sheet that you think the students should know, please add them. Use the resources provided to familiarize yourself with this chapter and the concepts presented. The takeaway points of this chapter include:

  • This chapter adds onto the discussion of how humans are involved in conservation efforts that affect evolution. The role of humans (anthropogenic) in climate change has a major effect on populations and there is no way to grasp the complexity of it.
  • North Atlantic right whales are one of the rarest marine mammals that have been around for a very long time and, according to scientists, they have evolved slowly or not much at all in the past 5 million years.
  • The story presented in this chapter is one of the many cases where animals were being poached by humans and their populations declined significantly.
  • Samples of DNA taken from various right whales showed that they were homozygous for many of their traits, meaning they had two of the same alleles. This means they have extremely low genetic diversity and scientists are puzzled about how they have survived this long. 

Key Terms

  • Anthropogenic – originating from human activity
  • Climate change – global warmer temperatures due to increase in greenhouse gases
  • Homozygous alleles – both alleles for a trait are the same

Questions

1. In your own words, explain the dilemma in this chpater.
Answers may vary. Encourage your students to explain their answers.

2. What was the most interesting thing you discovered in this chapter?
Answers may vary. Encourage your students to explain their answers.

3. What was confusing?
Answers may vary. Encourage students to explain their answers.

4. What is climate change? How might it affect animal populations in the ocean?
Climate change is due to the warming of the Earth's atmosphere from increased greenhouse gas emissions. This traps heat on the Earth's surface. Overall, it is a change in regional and global climate patterns. These changes can lead to temperature change in the ocean and affect certain animal populations, which then affects the food web and thus alters the ecosystem. Acidification of the ocean due to climate change affects coral reefs, which are very diverse ecosystems.

5. Give some background information on the right whale. How have their populations been affected?
North Atlantic right whales are one of the rarest marine mammals that have been around for a very long time and, according to scientists, they have evolved slowly or not much at all in the past 5 million years. These whales have been poached to the point where the population struggles to recover.

6. The right whales are said to be one of the most homozygous species. What do they mean by that?
Homozygous means they have two of the same alleles for a gene. For example, a homozygous genotype would be AA or aa whereas a heterozygous genotype is Aa.

7. Historically, why was the poaching of whales a big industry?
Whales were killed for their meat, oil, and blubber.

8. Research any additional information out there on the right whale population. How are these whales doing today?
Answers may vary. Encourage students to explain their answers. 

This teacher sheet is a part of the Resurrection Science lesson.

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