Academic journal article The Science Teacher

Mass Extinctions in the Ocean

Academic journal article The Science Teacher

Mass Extinctions in the Ocean

Article excerpt

As we harvest the ocean's bounty in an increasingly industrialized way, the rate at which marine organisms go extinct will rise, according to an article in Science (McCauley et al. 2015). The authors argue that we must implement management strategies beyond protected areas of the oceans to prevent a mass marine extinction. Some of the authors created a related video (see "On the web"). A New York Times article (Zimmer 2015) offers a detailed synopsis of the findings.

In January, world leaders gathered at the United Nations in New York City to discuss marine conservation policies to protect species and ecosystems in international waters (see "On the web"). Explore The New York Times's endangered and extinct species topic, which includes interactives, videos, and links to many other resources (see "On the web").

Classroom activities

See the Summer 2013 Green Room for general extinction videos and activities (Beckrich 2013). To focus on marine extinctions, here are some suggestions:

Sea turtles. In an activity from SEE Turtles, students learn about fishing practices, marine debris, and global warming as well as ways to reduce threats to sea turtles (see "On the web"). Have your students read about turtles stranded on Cape Cod as a recent example (Gorman 2014).

Vaquitas. The smallest cetaceans, vaquitas, are endangered mainly due to entanglement in shrimpers' nets in the Gulf of California. Another cetacean, the Yangtze River dolphin (baiji), has already gone extinct due to similar net entanglements in China. Through research and videos, students can learn about the extinction of the baiji; then, they can work in groups to determine if the vaquita may be next (see "On the web").

Ocean Explorer activities. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) Ocean Explorer program offers educational resources, lesson plans, and activities. In the Stressed Out! activity, students explore different ocean stressors. The Boom and Bust activity addresses fisheries management techniques that can help prevent overfishing. …

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