Students conduct imaginary interviews with northern wildlife species, researching and presenting answers to a set of questions in an interview format.
Internet and library access; examples of interview summaries (below); video-recording equipment (optional)
The purpose of this activity is for students to recognize the diversity of wildlife that lives in or around northern waters.
- Work with students to establish a research, interview and reporting format. Invite them to conduct imaginary "interviews" with wildlife that lives in and around northern waters. Group students into pairs where one has the role of interviewer and the other plays the role of interviewee.
- Have students select their animal or plant, research it (library or Internet) and present their findings through an interview. Here are links to get them started:
- Whales (narwhal, bowhead and beluga whale) at www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca and www.acsonline.org.
- Walrus (Atlantic walrus) and seals (ringed, hooded, bearded and harp) at www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca.
- Polar and grizzly bears at www.hww.ca.
- Fish (such as the Bering cisco, Arctic char, lake trout, northern pike, whitefish, grayling, Arctic cod, sculpins, Greenland shark, Dolly Varden char and inconnu) at www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca and www.taiga.net.
- Migratory birds and seabirds (such as the trumpeter swan, eider duck, harlequin duck, oldsquaw, fulmar, Canada goose, thick-billed murre, semipalmated plover, jaegar, Arctic tern, semipalmated sandpiper, black-legged kittiwake and the ivory gull) at www.hww.ca.
- Where do you live? What is it like there?
- What do you like to eat? How do you find or capture your food?
- Are there other animals that eat you?
- What special needs do you have for your survival and how are they met by your environment?
- What special features, adaptations or habits do you have?
- What changes have you noticed in your world over the past few years?
Examples of Interview Summaries
Northern Water-Life — The Harbour Seal Lacs des Loups Marine Subspecies
An amazing subspecies of the harbour seal, known as the Lac des Loups Marine Subspecies population, lives about 160 kilometres east of Hudson Bay on the Ungava Peninsula. While similar to their cousins, these landlocked seals spend their entire lives in fresh water! The Committee for the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada has rated them under the category of "Special Concern" (a wildlife species that may become a threatened or an endangered species because of a combination of biological characteristics and identified threats). There are few of these seals (100 to 600 individuals) and they are susceptible to human activities. Although scientists know little about this subspecies, they believe that it eats brook trout and hauls out onto the ice in small groups to lounge.
Northern Water-Life — The Narwhal
This whale is found in Canada's eastern Arctic. Narwhal males grow to about five metres and sport a unicorn-like, three-metre long, spiralling ivory tusk. The tusk is a long tooth that grows through a hole in the upper lip. No one knows the purpose of the tusk, but theories abound. Does it attract a mate? Is it used to pierce ice? Regardless, this whale is adept at living in an ice-covered sea and dives to depths of 1,000 metres or more to feed on Arctic cod and squid. Narwhals breathe air and survive in winter by finding areas of open water, such as leads and polynyas.
Northern Water-Life — The Thick-billed Murre
A murre looks like a penguin, but this seabird is actually a member of the auk family. Apart from brief periods spent on land to mate and nest, murres spend most of their lives on the ocean, "flying" underwater to depths of 100 metres or more. They use their thick bills to capture fish, squid and krill (tiny, shrimp-like crustaceans). Murre parents usually produce a single young each season. Their young must start the annual migration to wintering areas southward at three weeks of age — well before they can fly. They will often cover 1,000 km of the journey swimming at sea, followed closely by their parents, before their wings are ready for flight.
Northern Water-Life — The Arctic Char
The Arctic char's colour, taste and fighting spirit have made this member of the salmon family legendary among anglers. Indeed, its name has become synonymous with fishing in Canada's North. Arctic char are widely distributed throughout Northern Canada. Most Arctic char are anadromous (sea-going) populations that return to rivers and lakes to breed. Char have been a traditional food source for northern Aboriginal peoples for thousands of years. Today, they continue to play a role in supplying food, recreation and tourism-related job opportunities to Northerners.
- Identify at least three northern species of wildlife.
- Write a paragraph about one species of wildlife that lives in or around northern waters.
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