Curricula: The Underwater Project [What Lies Beneath: Water Life & Shipwrecks]
More than 70 percent of the Earth's surface is covered by ocean. The oceans are the largest ecosystem of all. Beneath these waters lives 20 percent of the Earth's species. Each species contributes to this vast ecosystem differently, and all relate to each other in their own unique way. Life is found below the depths of 4km. Rich in nutrients, the ocean floor is home to nine out of ten water species. There are many different habitats in the oceans, from sandy underwater deserts and huge mountains to coral reefs and open water. These various habitats can be divided into two main ones: the pelagic habitat, or the water itself, and the benthic habitat, or the ocean floor. The pelagic habitat is divided into several depth zones. Sunlight reaches down to 100m, and in muddy waters considerably less. This thin zone, where plants photosynthesize, is called the euphotic zone. Down 2000m is the bathyal zone, where there is little or no light. The vast ocean deeps, or abyssal zone, go down to 6000m.
Descriptive oceanography first began with the "Challenger Expedition." Under the direction of Scottish professor Charles Wyville Thompson and British naturalist Sir John Murray, the expedition took place from 1872 to 1876. It cruised nearly 130 000 km in the Atlantic, Pacific, and Antarctic oceans, gathering data on temperature, currents, water chemistry, marine organisms, and bottom deposits at 362 oceanographic stations scattered over 36 million sq km of ocean floor. The major contributions of their explorations included: the first systematic plot of currents and ocean temperatures, a map of bottom deposits, the discovery of 715 new genera, 4,717 new species of ocean life forms, and the discovery of numerous life forms, even at great ocean depths.
The Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre has made significant contributions to marine life. The Centre is home to a variety of water - based life of both salt and freshwater species from British Columbia's lakes, streams and coastal waters, as well as Arctic waters, the Amazon jungle, and the tropical Pacific. The Vancouver Aquarium Association was formed in 1950, and the aquarium first opened its doors in 1956. Found in Canada's Pacific National Aquarium in Stanley Park, the center is a self-supporting, non-profit association that is dedicated to preserving aquatic life through displays and interpretation.
In addition to water-based life, and perhaps more intriguing, the depths of the world's bodies of water offer explorers keys to times past. Water exploration can solve mysteries and provide clues to questions unanswered. The Canadian Coast Guard has played a major role in the rescue and recovery of ships in and around Canada's waters. The CCG was founded as the "Marine Branch" of the Department of Marine and Fisheries in 1867. In 1936, it came under the jurisdiction of the Department of Transportation, Marine Services, and in 1962 it was officially named the Canadian Coast Guard. Its current budget is $700 million, and it has 6200 employees. The vessels of the CCG fleet are stationed at the regional offices (Western, Central, Laurentian, Maritimes, and Newfoundland), with their head-quarters at Vancouver, Toronto, Quebec City, Dartmouth, and St John's, as well as at 11 strategically located bases and 5 subbases. The fleet consists of 56 major vessels, as well as 35 helicopters and one fixed-wing aircraft. In addition to the larger ships, there are 74 frontline rescue vessels and 4 hovercraft.
Canadian Coast Guard responsibilities include icebreaking, search and rescue, aids to navigation, and northern resupply. The CCG also has a regulatory responsibility under the Canada Shipping Act with respect to ship inspection and standards. The CCG provides and maintains some 13000 channel buoys and 10000 land-based aids of which 266 are major lighthouses; 33 coastal radio stations and 15 vessel traffic centres provide navigational hazard and weather advice. The CCG enforces safety standards and regulations, investigates marine casualties, and responds to emergency oil spills. Boating safety personnel offer courtesy inspections and give safety lectures to thousands of yachters and fishermen every year.
As the world's northernmost known and best preserved wooden shipwreck, the Breadalbane has been a wonder to scientists worldwide. Built in Scotland in 1843, she was a merchant ship sailing to Europe's great seaports carrying wine, wool, and grain. In the spring of 1853, Breadalbane was called into service by the Royal Navy and sent to the Arctic to carry supplies to Sir Edward Belcher's expedition which, since 1852, had been searching for the ships and men of the Franklin Expedition. Belcher's squadron was the Royal Navy's last and largest search expedition. Breadalbane was about 40 metres long, generously built, and square-rigged, typical of the hundreds that linked the great oceans during the reign of Queen Victoria. But she was no match for the Arctic. On August 21, 1853, just after midnight, a slab of ice knifed through her starboard bow. The 21 - man crew scrambled over the side to safety. Within 15 minutes, Breadalbane sank. The Phoenix, her surviving sister ship, picked up members of the crew. For 127 years, she remained hidden below the grinding polar pack, hard on her keel, her broken bowsprit pointing eastward towards home and England.
In 1981, an expedition went back for a more detailed look, supported by the Canadian Coast Guard, the National Geographic Society, and other institutions. A remotely piloted submersible was lowered into the lethally cold water. One hundred metres down, with still and video cameras, colour photographs were taken. The Breadalbane's bow, masts, rudder, and anchor could be seen; the green copper sheathing that still protected her hull looked like new. In a small cabinet hanging on her deck-house were her compass and a signal light; nearby was the big, wooden wheel that had guided her across the stormy North Atlantic. Breadalbane still lies far below the depths at which marine archaeologists can work. To unlock all of her secrets, new diving and photographic techniques specific to the Arctic must be developed. The new technology includes the Sea-Otter submersible, a lock-out diving system, and WASP, a physiologically protective diving suit. All are operated by Can-Dive Services, located in Vancouver.
The following curriculum areas are applicable: Science, History, Language Arts, Visual Arts, Design, Social Science, and Technology. This teaching unit is most appropriate for grades 5-12. Research Tools: Encyclopedias, Hardcopy and CD-ROM, Library Resource Centre, Books, and the Internet. (Check the resources section on Page 6.)
1 Examine the diversity of life and history found beneath the world's waters.
2 Be able to classify a variety water species.
3 Understand terms relating to marine life.
4 Think critically and work in teams.
5 Develop organizational skills and presentation skills.
6 Practically apply what has been learned in a real-world context.
1498 - John Cabot disappeared on his second voyage.
1501 - Gaspar Corte-Real vanished on a voyage to Newfoundland.
1583 - On August 29, one of Sir Humphrey Gilbert's ships, off Sable Island became the first identifiable marine disaster; at least 85 men were drowned.
1711 - On August 23, the British fleet under Rear Admiral Sir Hovenden Walker sailing to attack Quebec blundered onto the rocks of Ile-aux-Oeufs. The 19 warships and the 41 other ships carried over 11 000 men; 7 transports and a supply ship were lost with as many as 950 men.
1812 - The remains of the sunken vessels of Admiral Walker's British fleet, which supported General Wolfe's capture of Quebec, have been found off of Scatari Island, NS, and near English Point in the St Lawrence River. In Lake Ontario, the British warships Hamilton and Scourge, which sank in a fierce storm during the War of 1812, have been found and are now being protected.
1853 - On August 21, just after midnight, a slab of ice knifed through Breadalbane's starboard bow, and within 15 minutes she sank.
1873 - On March 20, The Atlantic sailed from Liverpool to New York with 811 passengers, 4 officers, and a crew of 141. The ship blundered onto Meagher's Rock (Prospect, NS) and listed so sharply that those below deck were trapped; many who reached the deck were washed overboard.
1914 - On May 29, The Canadian Pacific passenger liner SS Empress of Ireland sank in 14 minutes in the Gulf of St Lawrence after a collision off Rimouski. Of the 1477 passengers and crew, 1014 perished, resulting in a death toll exceeded to that point only by the Titanic incident.
1959 - On June 20, the fishing fleet of Escuminac, NB, was hit by a massive storm that sank 22 boats and drowned 35 men. It is estimated that between 1810 and 1870, The Newfoundland seal fishery lost some 400 vessels and 1000 men in the ice floes. Although most mishaps involved relatively few lives, the failure of The Newfoundland to recover her sealers during a storm (March 31 to April 2, 1914) caused 77 to perish; and the sealer Southern Cross vanished with 173 aboard.
1975 - During a November storm, the modern US bulk carrier Edmund Fitzgerald went down in Lake Superior with all 29 crew members.
MARINE LIFE VOCABULARY
coelom (SEE-lum): The body cavity, which contains visceral organs.
dichotomous key (kie-KOT-un-mus KEY): A tool for identifying plants and animals based on answers to a sequence of questions. Each question offers two choices.
distribution: The geographical occurrence of a plant or animal.
ecosystem: A unit of plants, animals, and nonliving components of an environment that interact.
endoskeleton: An internal support system made of bone, cartilage, or a combination of the two.
environment: The total surroundings and forces that act upon a living thing. These surroundings include physical factors such as light, heat, weather, and structure of the earth. They also include other plants and animals.
eukaryote (you-KARE-ee-oat): An organism whose cells contain a defined nucleus and membrane-enclosed organelles.
exoskeleton: A hard, outer protective or supporting structure.
gills: Organs used to remove oxygen from the water for underwater breathing.
habitat: The place where an animal lives.
heterotroph: An organism that is unable to manufacture its own food and therefore consumes other organisms.
invertebrate: An animal without a backbone or spinal column.
mantle: In a shelled mollusc, the underlying skin that produces and lines the shell. In unshelled molluscs (squids, octopuses), it forms the body wall.
nematocyst (nee-Mat-oh-sist): A stinging cell of corals, jellyfishes, and other cidarians, used to stun prey.
notochord: A hollow dorsal nerve cord.
nucleus: The DNA-containing organelle that controls a cell's activities.
organelle: A structure within a cell that performs a specific task.
populations: A group of plants or animals of the same species that live in the same area and have the opportunity to breed with each other.
prokaryote (pro-KARE-ee-oat): A single-celled organism without a defined nucleus.
radial symmetry: An animal body structure where any section through the mouth and down the body length divides the body into identical halves.
sessile: Attached directly at the base; not able to move from place to place.
sexual reproduction: Reproduction with the fusion, or joining, of gametes (egg and sperm cells).
species: A group of organisms that are genetically similar and so are able to reproduce with each other.
taxonomy: The science of classifying animals and plants based on their natural relationships.
vertebrate: An animal with a spinal column. All fishes, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals are vertebrates.
visceral mass: A structure in molluscs that contain the digestive, reproductive, circulatory, and excretory organs.
This brainstorming session will inspire students to delve into the depths of the world's bodies of waters. Begin the first part of the session by asking students to name different types of marine species. Where do these species live and why? Are any of these species endangered? If so, what factors contribute to marine pollution, and how can marine pollution be reduced? The second part of the session will deal with shipwrecks. Mention the Titanic to your students. Ask students what comes to mind when they think of the Titanic. Do they know where and why the ship sank? Can they name other famous shipwrecks in Canadian waters?
Students will pick at least one of the following:
1 Born in 1910, Frenchman Jacques Cousteau is famous for his underwater explorations. In the early 1940s, he developed the aqualung, a portable breathing apparatus for divers, with French engineer Emille Gagnan. This encouraged more people to explore the oceans, which greatly increased our knowledge of underwater life. Cousteau helped develop the underwater camera, and has made many films of life under the sea, including The Silent World. Cousteau has also campaigned to stop destructive mining in Antarctica. Using the Internet and books in your public and school libraries, students will complete a biographical sketch of Jacques Cousteau, and will create a timeline of his discoveries.
2 Students will research and describe the similarities and differences between the masses of water around the world. Students will divide into eight groups. Each group will cover one of the world's bodies of water. The eight are the South Atlantic Ocean, the North Atlantic Ocean, the Arctic Ocean, the Pacific Ocean, the Great Barrier Reef, the Indian Ocean, the Southern Ocean, and the Pacific Ocean. Each group will describe the climate of the water, the life that lives in it, its pollution levels, and the species that live within. When this is complete, the groups will present their findings to the rest of the class, and discuss the similarities and differences between the bodies of water.
3 Unlike many shipwrecks, arctic waters beautifully preserved Breadalbane. For scientists, she is a drowned benchmark, an opportunity to learn more about arctic biology and geology and about the sea ice that floats over her masts. Historically, she is a time capsule: some of her cargo and working tools and personal effects of the crew are still on board. Diving down to her and studying her remains is an excursion into Canada's past and into our future. Using library resources and those available from the Canadian Coast Guard, students will research what contributions the discovery of the Breadalbane has made to arctic biology and geology. Has this, or any, sinking changed the way ships are built, navigated, or designed? Make suggestions as to how sailing safety can be improved.
4 Students will choose one endangered water species. Using resources such as newspapers, journals, books, and the Internet, the following questions should be addressed: Where do the species live? How does the species travel? How does it communicate? What are their physical characteristics? What species are predators to them? What do they eat? How do they find their food? Are they endangered? What is their average life span? After these questions are answered and using the classification list on the Sea World web site at http://www.seaworld.org/diversityoflife/animalia.html, students will place the animals chosen into the appropriate category of species.
5 The Great Barrier Reef of Australia is the largest coral reef in the world. Coral reefs contain a wide variety wildlife. The waters are not rich in nutrients, but the reef inhabitants recycle them very quickly so that nothing is wasted. Corals can live only in clean, warm, salty water less than 100ft (30 m) deep, so that sunlight reaches them. Algae live in the bodies of the corals and they need sunlight to make food. Pollution, mining, and rising sea levels, due to the greenhouse effect, threaten coral reefs. Research the Internet for media coverage on this situation. What types of industrial pollution are affecting the Great Barrier Reef? In letters addressed to the companies involved, students will explain why it is important to preserve the reef, and how companies can help in its preservation.
Students will pick at least one of the following:
1 Few people know that British Columbia has corals. In tropical seas, reefs are built from the hard, calcified skeletons of corals, whereas the soft corals of BC have much less calcium carbonate within and are unable to form reefs. By growing artificial corals, students will observe the growth of crystals that develop in a way similar to how coral polyps create their calcium carbonate cups. Materials will include: plastic bowls, pieces of charcoal, porous brick, tile, cement, or sponge, water, table salt, liquid bluing (found in bleaches at grocery stores), food colouring; measuring tablespoons, masking tape, and pens. After labelling their bowls with their names, students will put their charcoal, brick, tile, sponge, or cement into their bowls. Add two tablespoons, of water, two tablespoons of salt, and two tablespoons of liquid bluing over the base material (charcoal, etc.) Set bowls on table or counter top. Formations need free air circulation to develop. The next day, two more table spoons of salt should be added. On the third day, pour two tablespoons each of salt, water, and bluing, then add a few drops of food colouring to each piece of base material. A crystal formation should appear by the third day. Just as the water, bluing, and dissolved salt combine to form crystals, coral polyps use dissolved calcium carbonate to create the stony cup that protects their soft bodies and creates reefs. If students encounter problems with this experiment, guide them to the Sea World Web site at http://www.seaworld.org.
2 Students will choose a ship from the shipwreck timeline. Looking at an archived drawing or photograph of the ship, students will build a model of the ship. Younger students may use plastercine, modelling clay, or wooden spread sticks. Older students may use CAD programs to design their ships. Students may also incorporate an interactive element by designing a virtual tour of the ship, if feasible. Ensure that all features of the ship are present and precise, from the number of masts to the name of the ship itself. Once the designs are complete, students can present their ship to the class and the methods of their design approach. Students may make suggestions as to how the design of the boat could have been improved, and whether the change in design could have reduced the probability of sinking.
3 More than 2,000 years ago, Aristotle devised the first classification system with two kingdoms and simple categories to name plants and animals. In the eighteenth century, a Swedish botanist, Carolus Linnaeus, created a classification system based on similarities and differences among organisms that separate them into categories. The sequence of categories is as follows: kingdom, phylum, class, order, families, genus, and species. Linnaeus prepared the scientific names of each organism in Latin. Linnaeus used two words to name each organism, a genus name and a species name. In his system, called binomial nomenclature or two-word naming, the genus describes the group to which the organism belongs, and the species describes the specific animal. Students will imagine that they are the Greek philosopher Aristotle. They will document their thoughts on the need for a classification system, why two kingdoms of classifications makes sense, and whether or not the world will accept this classification system. Students will then imagine that they are Carolus Linnaeus, and document in their diaries the need to change or alter Aristotle's classification system.
4 Students will break off into groups of 4 or 5 and will choose an endangered species from Research Activity #2. The idea is to create an awareness campaign about an endangered species. Students will brainstorm within their groups and try to devise a slogan that represents their cause. Using the information gathered in #2, students will promote awareness and the need for preserving their underwater species. Each group member will have different responsibilities. Posters that illustrate the species provide information about the species, reveal why the species is endangered, and detail ways the public can help. Programs like "adopt-a-manatee," which promote awareness, could be reviewed for inspiration, or even paralleled. Students could also establish new funds for endangered water species. Sculptured water- animals could be made out of clay or plastercine and placed around the classroom for all students to see.
Like all historical artifacts, the Breadalbane shipwreck will take time to study, and special problems are raised by her position in the Arctic. She lies under an unpredictable barrier of ice. Marine experts wish to study ice formation over the ship and the effects of ice scouring on nearby sediments. This information is of interest to all parties working in northern waters. The Final Project will require students to combine their water-based life research with that of the shipwrecks. The first part of the project will require students to give a detailed account of the Breadalbane wreckage. Students will map out the trip that the Breadalbane planned and travelled, and the location in which it sank. What new diving and photographic techniques specific to the Arctic are being developed to successfully uncover the Breadalbane? How can these efforts be improved? The second part of the project requires students to research the life that lives in the Arctic Ocean, and how these species have settled in and around the wreckage. What are the characteristics of the Arctic Ocean? What species live beneath? Students will explain how the ship has become a fixed part of the ocean.
The Vancouver Marine Science Centre http://www.vanaqua.org
Sea World/Busch Gardens http://www.seaworld.org
The 1999 Canadian Encyclopedia McClelland & Stewart Inc.
The 1999 Firefly Science Encyclopedia Firefly Books Ltd.…
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Publication information: Article title: Curricula: The Underwater Project [What Lies Beneath: Water Life & Shipwrecks]. Contributors: Not available. Magazine title: Teach. Publication date: November/December 2000. Page number: Insert. © Quadrant Educational Enterprises Inc. May/Jun 2007. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All Rights Reserved.
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