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Save our monsters!

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Musée du Fjord, La Baie, Quebec

Save our monsters
The teaching collection Sea Monsters is part of a educational objective directed towards students ages 9 to 15. In this lesson, teachers will find links with the teaching collection.
The Legends of the Depths
For thousands of years mankind has been fascinated by the “monster of the sea”. Some were thought to be imaginary, until researchers made them real. Others still live only in stories and legends.
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Learning Object Collection: The Legends of the Depths
Institution: Musée du Fjord
An ecosystem
An ecosystem is a natural environment where all living species depend on one another. When an element of that environment is modified, the entire balance of the system is threatened. The health of marine ecosystems is of great concern. Human activity is the main threat to these ecosystems. Some fishing techniques have a direct effect on marine ecosystems. Trawling, which uses great nets to catch huge amounts of marine species, is responsible for the destruction of a large part of marine ecosystems. The area destroyed corresponds to 150 times the yearly deforestation on land. Implementing actions that take into account the impact of fishing on these ecosystems is more urgent than ever. Current fishing practice not only imperils the future of marine populations and ecosystems, but also the fishing industry as a whole.
Cetaceans are divided into two large groups: baleen whales or Mysticeti, andtoothed whales or Odontoceti. The Mysticeti include whales, rorquals, and the Megaptera. They do not have teeth, but rather baleens with which they filter their food. They breathe by way of two spout-holes, also called spiracles, located at the top of their head. The Odontoceti comprisemore than 70 species, including sperm whales, orcas, dolphins, narwhals, and belugas. These predators have teeth and a single spouthole (nostril).
Right whale (Eubalaena glacialis)
This baleen whale can reach a length of more than 17 metres, and weigh more than 70 tons. Their baleens measured a little more than two metres. This whale can reach a length of more than 17 metres, and weigh more than 70 tons. Although it is slow, the right whale is capable of leaping out of the water or doing acrobatic spins above the surface. The Basques, who called these whales “good” or “right,” harpooned them in the winter off their coast, in the Gulf of Biscay, and later, in the 16th century, began hunting them into the waters of Labrador. The whales did not attack fishing vessels, but once injured by harpoons and spears, could ram them furiously with their tails and thus crush the whaling ship and its occupants. Today, this species is in a very precarious situation: it is believed that there are fewer than 350 right whales on North America’s east coast, and more than half of this population can be found in the Bay of Fundy starting in June and in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.
The Right Whale
Right whales attacking a ship.
Until the early 20th Century, it was believed that whales were a threat to ships. In 1913, a German ocean liner was reported to have been attacked by a pod of right whales in the Atlantic Ocean. But right whales are actually quite inoffensive. Despite its monstrous proportions, the black North Atlantic right whale was so named by whalers who thought is was the right whale to hunt, because they move slowly and, being rich in blubber, they float to the surface of the ocean after the kill.

Nelson Cazeils private collection

© 2011, Musée du Fjord. All Rights Reserved.
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Learning Object Collection: The Legends of the Depths
Learning Object: Whales
Institution: Musée du Fjord
Large fresh water and ocean fish have often been the inspiration for stories and given rise to myth. Among these fish, sharks are certainly those with the worst reputations.They are slaughtered today for their meat and cartilage, the oil that is extracted from their livers, their skin, the cornea in their eyes (used in surgery) and their teeth and fins. In fact, many fishers will simply cut off the fins of the shark they catch and throw them back into the sea. This practice, which several countries including Canada prohibit or regulate, is one of the main causes of the reduction of shark populations in all the world’s oceans. Yet these predators are essential to the equilibrium of our marine ecosystems. The population of white sharks, for example, has diminished approximately 80% in 14 years yet these predators are essential for the balance of the marine ecosystem.
The great white shark
Five-metre plus white shark captured near Prince Edward Island.
The great white shark is a silent killer that can smell its prey from kilometres away. This formidable carnivore mainly hunts sea mammals and other fish, but its constant need for food drives it to sometimes take a run at animals or unusual objects just to see if they are edible… In the 1970s, the Steven Spielberg movie Jaws fuelled the mythical terror associated with the great white.

Jack Woolner and Tom Hurlbut private collection

© 2011, Musée du Fjord. All Rights Reserved.
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Learning Object Collection: The Legends of the Depths
Institution: Musée du Fjord
The leatherback turtle
The leatherback turtle is an animal that lives in the tropical and temperate oceans, and in colder waters as well. This reptile, one of the largest, has the widest range of any reptile in the world. In 1988, a specimen weighing 917 kg was found on a beach in Wales. In Canada, it can be seen in the Atlantic off the Maritimes, in the St. Lawrence and as far as the waters off Baffin Island. This turtle loves to eat jellyfish. Its enormous head has a horny beak armed with sharp points, two on the top and two on the bottom, that allow it to seize and tear its prey. This turtle’s shell has seven ridges that make it similar in shape to a lute. This reptile’s survival is severely threatened in Canada and around the world. Fishing nets and plastic bags swallowed by the turtle, which they mistake for jellyfish, are contributing to its disappearance. Programs have been established to restore the leatherback turtle in Canada’s Pacific and Atlantic waters.
Leatherback Turtle
Leatherback turtle
The leatherback turtle is a common reptile to all the planet’s oceans. In Canada, it is found in the St. Lawrence River, in the Maritimes, near Baffin Island, and in British Columbia. It can grow to more than 2.5 metres in length and 900 kilograms in weight! Their preferred food is jellyfish, which they pursue as far as Labrador, and even farther north in the Atlantic Ocean!

Marine mammal observation network

© 2011, Musée du Fjord. All Rights Reserved.
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Learning Object Collection: The Legends of the Depths
Institution: Musée du Fjord
Atlantic Walrus
The scientific name of the walrus, Odobenus rosmarus, means «horse of the sea who walks with its teeth». This pinniped, oafish and clumsy on the ground, is formidable in the water. It is believed that when threatened, they are aggressive enough to capsize a rowboat. The Atlantic walrus (Odobenus rosmarus), which can attain a length of 3.2 metres and a weight of 1.4 tons, is found in Ungava Bay, on the southern and eastern coasts of Hudson Bay, and on the northern coast of Hudson Bay and Davis Strait, and in Foxe Basin and Baffin Bay in the high Arctic. In earlier times, its habitat extended to Nova Scotia (Sable Island in particular). Walrus hunting has been prohibited in Canada since 1930. The traditional Inuit hunt is still authorized, but is controlled. The status of this species is troubling. Although they nearly qualify for «threatened species» status which would require an effective hunting management plan.
A walrus attacks two men in a boat.
Sailors are wary of walruses, which can become very aggressive when harassed or threatened. They can capsize a rowboat by leaning on one side of it. They are rumoured to have destroyed kayaks by striking it with their tusks! Although they are rather clumsy and oafish on land and pack ice, walruses are a dangerous foe in the water. That is why fishermen prefer to hunt them on land or ice.

Nelson Cazeils private collection

© 2011, Musée du Fjord. All Rights Reserved.
View the complete media file

Learning Object Collection: The Legends of the Depths
Learning Object: Mermaids and Pinnipeds
Institution: Musée du Fjord
Activity: Save our monsters!
Required documents:
- Lesson Plan
- Library books
- Internet access
- Teaching collection
- Internet site: www.monstresmarins.com
Learning objective
The principle objective of this lesson is to instill in our student's an understanding of the fragility of our natural resources.
Let's start!
The protection of endangered marine species begins primarily through an understanding and appreciation for them.

Invite your student to choose an endangered marine animal and to inform the public about it.
By brochures and posters, students will work in teams to illustrate the situation of the animal and explain how we protect it.
Students need cardboard, pencils, scissors and glue.
On the posters, we must find: title,
a description of the animal (size, weight, distribution),
explain why this animal is endangered,
what to do to save him.
Once the posters or brochures are complete, students will display their work in schools to educate their classmates and teachers to the reality of marine animals.

Learning Objectives

The main objective of this lesson is to educate young people about the fragility of water resources. They were hunting for their meat products derived from it, to prove their existence or for fear they inspire, more aquatic populations are in a worrying situation.

Cycle two and three of elementary school
Mathematic, science and technology
1. To propose explanation for or solutions to scientific or technological problems
• To identify a problem or define a set of problems
• To use a variety of exploration strategies
• To assesses his/her approach
2. To communication in the languages used in science and technology
• To become familiar with everyday language related to science and technology
• To use everyday language and symbolic language related to science and technology
• To make effective use of everyday and symbolic language to formulate a question, explain a point of view or give and explanation
Cycle one of secondary school
Mathematic, science and technology
1. Seeks answers or solutions to scientific or technological problem
• Defines a problem
• Chooses an investigation or design scenario
• Analyzes his/ her result or solution
2. Makes the most of his/her knowledge of science and technology
• Understands natural phenomena
• Identifies the effects of science and technology
• Evaluates his/her procedure
3. Communicates in the language used in science and technology
• Participates in exchanging scientific and technological information
• Divulges scientific or technological knowledge or result
• Interprets and produces scientific and technological messages