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Available on catch-up

Whales, carbon, and climate

Celebrating World Ocean Day 2023, this live lesson takes classes on a journey to find out about the wonderful world of whales and their importance for ocean health, and for the health of the planet as a whole.

In this live lesson, Convex Seascape Survey scientist, Dr Ruth Thurstan, will explain how whales help to create an abundant and healthy ocean, and how these magnificent animals can be part of the solution to the climate crisis.

This all starts off with some very important whale spotting!

Broadcast on Thu 8 Jun 2023
  • 45 mins
  • UKS2 / Ages 9-11

Broadcast on YouTube Live

Learning objectives
  • Name and identify some of the great whales in our ocean
  • Analyse the impact of human activity on whale numbers over the past 200 years
  • Calculate how important whales are for addressing climate change

This is a standalone lesson to celebrate World Ocean Day 2023. No specific preparation is needed but teachers and students may wish to use some of Encounter Edu’s ocean activities and lessons as part of the build up to the day.

There are two student sheets to support the live learning to print out and share with students. The second of these will be available shortly.

If you have never joined a live lesson before, visit the support centre where you can find a range of technical and educational information.

Questions generated by your class can be submitted via the interaction app that will appear on this lesson page once you have booked the lesson.

Lesson steps

1. Introduction (5 minutes)

We welcome classes to this live lesson for World Ocean Day 2023, meeting our speaker. This is also a chance to go over the learning objectives for the lesson and cover digital housekeeping.

2. Let’s go whale spotting (10 minutes)

We introduce the stars of this live lesson, the great whales, see if classes can identify different species using clues on the whale fact sheet, and learn some amazing facts about these important animals.

3. How have humans affected whales? (10 mins)

It’s been over 35 years since hunting for whales was banned by most counties. We will analyse the huge impact that whaling caused to whale populations, and consider what actions are needed to restore whales to the previous numbers.

4. Whales and climate change (10 mins)

Whales play a few different roles in terms of storing, sequestering, and fixing carbon. We will look at these three different processes and maybe have a go at some calculations to show what a huge impact on climate change that healthy whale populations could have.

5. Q&A (10 minutes)

This is a chance for students to ask any questions they may have about whales, carbon, and climate change.


Dr ruth thurstan speaker

Dr Ruth Thurstan

Senior Lecturer, University of Exeter

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