Dolphins Activity 1 (Science, Yr 7)

Animal Classification, Marine Food Webs and Human Impacts on Dolphins

The learning sequence for this activity begins by considering where dolphins and humans are placed in terms of the classification of organisms. It then examines where dolphins are in a food chain and how human activities around dolphin capture affect this. The impact of human activities on captive dolphins and the nature of the captive habitat is also discussed.

Time Allocation

Three lessons. 

Key Inquiry Questions

  • How are animals classified?
  • What are the interconnections within a marine food web?
  • How does human activity affect wild dolphin habitat?
  • Reflect upon the features of captive dolphin habitat.

Teacher Notes

It is recommended that teachers watch the video Wild vs Captive: 10 things you didn’t know about dolphins prior to the lesson. Access video notes for teachers here

Learning Activities

1. PRE-TEST

  • Recap previous lessons where the teacher would have introduced classification using hierarchical systems such as kingdom, phylum, class, order, family, genus and species.
  • Ask students to complete the table of classification by putting humans, dolphins and one other animal of their choice into classification groups.
  • Table of Classification (access pdf printable version here).

Human Being

Bottlenose Dolphin

Your favourite animal

Kingdom:

Kingdom:

Kingdom:

Phylum:

Phylum:

Phylum:

Class:

Class:

Class:

Order:

Order:

Order:

Family:

Family:

Family:

Genus:

Genus:

Genus:

Species:

Species:

Species:

 

2. EXPLORE

Food Chains

  • Design a simple marine food chain. Include the following organisms: dolphins, phytoplankton, herring fish, humans, tuna fish, zooplankton, the sun (for energy).
  • Label each organism.

Human Impacts on Local Habitats

  1. Dolphins have complex social relationships.
  2. Wild bottlenose dolphins can live for over 50 years.
  3. Dolphins can swim over 60km every day.
  4. Dolphins are very smart.
  5. Dolphins, like us, get stressed out.
  6. Dolphins born in captivity are likely to remain in captivity.
  7. About 2,000 dolphins are in captivity today.
  8. Some captive dolphins have been taken from the wild.
  9. Dolphin captivity is banned in many countries.
  10. Your opinion matters.

 

3. DISCUSS

Think/Pair/Share Activity

  • Divide the class in half.
  • One half (A) will look at human impacts on habitat while the other half (B) will look at human impacts on an individual species from that habitat. YouTube resources listed below may assist students with this activity.
    •  A. Impact on Habitat. In pairs or small groups, ask students to think about the impacts of human activity on the habitats in which dolphins live. Use Taiji as an example. Consider the impact on other species in the food chain as a result of the dolphin hunt. List the pros and cons of this impact. Have the smaller groups share findings with their half of the class.
    • B. Impact on Individual. In pairs or small groups, ask students to think about the impacts of a life in captivity on bottlenose dolphins. Compare the habitat of a captive dolphin with wild dolphin habitat. List the pros and cons of captivity. Students should refer to the Voiceless Fact Sheet: Dolphins in Captivity here. Have the smaller groups share findings with their half of the class.

4. SHARE

Ask for a spokesperson from each half of the class (i.e. A and B) to address the class and provide a summary of their group’s findings (i.e. impact on habitat/impact on individual).

5. REFLECT

Ask students to write a 150-word response to the following: ‘What is your opinion on the use of captive dolphins in dolphinariums? Can their lack of liberty be justified? Explain why or why not’.

6. USEFUL RESOURCES

Classification The University of Michigan, Museum of Zoology's ‘Animal Diversity Web has a search function which allows students to look up the classification of all species.
On food chains General information on food chains.
Information on marine food chains here and here.
On general dolphin physiology and impacts of captivity Voiceless Fact Sheet: Dolphins in Captivity
On various behaviours of captive dolphins A search on YouTube will reveal footage from captive dolphins in various aquaria and shows around the world.
On various behaviours of non-captive dolphins Watch videos on:

 

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