9-12 Human Impacts: Dolphins

Human Impacts

The South Carolina Aquarium, in partnership with teachers, has created this online curriculum for teachers to use with their students in the classroom. One of the curriculum themes for High School is Human Impacts. The activities teach concepts that build on this theme. All activities are based upon South Carolina Science Standards, and each activity contains background information, procedures, materials lists, standards addressed, assessments, curriculum extensions and resource lists. We hope teachers will enjoy this resource!

If you are a teacher planning to bring your students to the Aquarium to participate in our Human Impacts (Dolphin Discovery) classroom program, we recommend completing the following activities before your visit. Those activities include: Marine Mammals, Diets and Dangers and Meet the Locals.

Original ideas and concepts for this Human Impacts Dolphin Unit were created by Lea Caswell for her masters thesis project at the University of Charleston, SC in 2019.

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Students will use a dichotomous key to distinguish between marine mammal species based on external characteristics. Then they will learn about the worldwide distribution of different marine mammal species by plotting and analyzing latitude and longitude.

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Students will learn about marine food webs, how fragile the ocean ecosystem is and why it is important to study the diets of apex predators like bottlenose dolphins. Once students understand food webs, they will play a game that will introduce the concepts of bioaccumulation and biomagnification.

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Students will learn about different bottlenose dolphin populations in Charleston, SC, called stocks. Students will match dorsal fin photos to identify dolphins. Students will learn how dolphins are sentinel species.

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Students will participate in small group debates. Students will learn how to research current controversial topics, find scientific and professional research that supports their side of the issue, organize arguments into a logical structure, and effectively communicate their point of view to the rest of class. Students will also have to listen objectively and vote on other topics presented during class.