Ocean Treasures – Yours to Discover!
Treasure! The word conjures up spine-tingling images of adventure and discovery on wild coastlines—swashbuckling pirates and oak chests spilling gold and gems onto sundrenched sand. Children love the excitement of treasure maps and the eager pursuit of a scavenger hunt.
We can have fun fantasizing about ocean treasure hunts for long-lost pieces of eight. But healthy oceans also offer us a very real treasure here and now—a trove of biodiversity that we tend to take for granted:
- Oceans provide us with fish and shellfish, the world's greatest sources of dietary protein.
- Ocean flora and fauna provide life-saving pharmaceuticals such as anti-cancer drugs.
- The oceans' algae absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen on a massive scale. These tiny species contribute directly to the air we need to breathe.
- Oceans and their creatures connect us to our rich cultural heritage through history, music, and stories.
Ocean shores provide opportunities for recreation, relaxation, and spiritual renewal. In spite of how valuable our ocean treasures truly are, our behaviour continues to threaten them. Surprisingly, the greatest threats often arise, not on the oceans themselves, but far inland. As we forget or ignore our links to living oceans, we:
- poison ocean waters with chemicals and waste waters from our homes, schools, farms, and businesses;
- increase erosion and siltation by removing shoreline vegetation from inland waterways;
- destroy critical habitats by building houses and cottages on ecologically sensitive shorelines;
- hasten global climate change by burning fossil fuels; and
- deprive our migratory ocean wildlife, especially fishes and birds, of the healthy inland habitats they need to complete complex life cycles.
The conceptual and spatial mapping activities in this unit offer excellent ways to explore how we are all intimately connected to our salt-water world. "Mind mapping" helps students make personal and meaningful connections on a conceptual level, and the maps they produce will help them organize, remember, and communicate those connections. Similarly, spatial maps help students see their physical relationship with ocean ecosystems. When we trace the waterways from our home to the killer whales’, we discover, in a new and powerful way, how each of us can contribute to the well-being of ocean wildlife— and how the ocean's vitality affects our own.
The levels of complexity in spatial mapping are limitless. Younger students can sketch maps with a few key features. Advanced high school students may be able to use GPS (Global Positioning Systems) and GIS (Geographic Information Systems) computer technologies to superimpose and compare many different types of information.
We hope you will use this teacher's guide to discover how mapping our connections to oceans can integrate science, technology, geography, history, art, language, and even physical activity to kindle the excitement of ocean discovery in your students.
Basic Concepts and Curriculum Links
This teacher's guide is based on the following key elements from the Canadian Association of Principals' publication entitled Fundamental Learning About Oceans.
- Oceans are essential to life. (Science)
- Watersheds—streams, lakes, rivers, and wetlands—empty into oceans, forming vital transportation links. (Geography, Social Studies)
- Oceans influence our social, economic, historical, international, and political development. (History, Social Studies)
- Oceans are threatened by pollution, particularly from the land. (Environmental Education, Science)
- Protecting and promoting oceans is our global and civic responsibility. (Social Studies)
Section 1: Ocean Awareness in Your Backyard
- My Grampa's Tall Tales
- Canada's Drainage Basins (PDF)
- Lesson 1.1: Discover Your Ocean Connections
- Lesson 1.2: Discover Your Path to the Ocean
- Lesson 1.3: Sea-Faring Friend Theme Map
- A Treasure Hunt on the Watery Web
Section 2: Ocean Threats
- Threats to the Ocean From Your Backyard
- Lesson 2.1: From Me to the Sea
- From Me to the Sea Checklist
- Lesson 2.2: Discover Local Ocean Threats
- Ocean Threats Scavenger Hunt
- Lesson 2.3: Clean Getaway