Coronavirus community service: a virtual marine biology camp?

March 13, 2020

We’re scientists. We’re also parents. Our daughter is stuck at home as public schools in our area have been closed for 6 weeks. Yikes! How do we entertain and educate them, while we all figure out how to work from home?

We have a fantastic team of biologists at Oceans Initiative, each of whom runs at least one fascinating project. We’re planning to live stream an event Monday 16 March 2020 at 11 am (Pacific). Choose your favourite platform. We’ll be streaming simultaneously on Instagram and Facebook. No need to sign up. Just like and follow the pages, and we’ll “see” you Monday at 11. (When we studied at University of St Andrews, we loved the tradition of “elevenses” when scientists met in the lobby every morning at 11 to drink tea and coffee, eat pastries, and talk about science.)

Feel free to email us your questions ahead of time, to get the conversation started. We’ll start out by talking about southern resident killer whales. But let’s brainstorm the next topic for our meeting. This quarantine may last a while. We could talk about Pacific white-sided dolphins, including Erin’s work collecting breath samples to understand diseases in wild dolphins. (That may be an age-appropriate way to talk about viruses.) We could talk about our efforts to keep whales, dolphins, and porpoises safe from fishing gear. One of our team, Natalie Mastick, could talk about her studies of parasites in marine mammals — if we talk on a Thursday, she could stream from her lab and show you some worms, in jars. Or maybe we can figure out how to invite guest speakers when we run out of topics.

Let us know in the comments below if this is a community service you’d use. How are you keeping your kids entertained and educated at home these days? We’re all in this together.

104 Responses to “Coronavirus community service: a virtual marine biology camp?”

  1. Melinda says:

    Thanks for thinking creatively. We are all in this together, and we would very much appreciate the virtual learning opportunity.

  2. Natalie says:

    This is such a wonderful, innovative learning opportunity! Thank you for creating it, we’ll be sure to join monday 16th!
    We (family of 3 including an 8 year-old) would be interested in finding out about how the resident orcas are doing, how their habitat is affected by our presence, and just more generally what it’s like to live the life of a resident orca.

  3. Kim says:

    Not sure if this is the place for this question, but I’ve been wondering about the impact of the new rocket launch site in Canso, NS and the effect it may have on the new whale sanctuary along the Eastern Shore of NS. I know the proposal is for only 2 rocket launches per year at first, but curious nonetheless.

    Secondly, do you recommend whale watching tours? I’d love to give this experience to my 7 year old, but don’t want to negatively impact our wildlife either. I’m torn as I think it my spark her interest/love of caring for animals/nature.

    Thank you for this opportunity!
    Kim

    • oceansadmin says:

      Great questions, Kim! We don’t know anything about the rocket launch site, or the whale sanctuary off Nova Scotia. We have a lot of learning to do. (Rob’s mum is from Mabou, so we’ll check it out.) We did publish a paper last year on the transmission of jet noise from air to water. And you should definitely take your daughter on a whale watching trip. Seeing whales in the wild is an amazing, educational experience, and there are great companies out there. Critically endangered whale populations may need their space, but thankfully there are lots of healthy whale populations to be watched. That includes pilot whales, humpback whales, Bigg’s or mammal-eating killer whales, minke whales, lots of dolphin species around the country, and many other whale and dolphin species. Let us know what you see.

  4. Adrienne Low-Grindley says:

    Hullo, we’re huge fans of Paddington Bear and we very much appreciate our elevenses as well, so we’ll look for your group on FB while we enjoy tea & sweets. We have a question about the manatees. Are they truly disappearing and how can we see ir study them off the CA coast? Thank you!!

  5. Hullo, we’re huge fans of Paddington Bear and we very much appreciate our elevenses as well, so we’ll look for your group on FB while we enjoy tea & sweets. We have a question about the manatees. Are they truly disappearing and how can we see, or study them off the CA coast? Thank you!!

  6. julie ballard says:

    we’ll be watching in north carolina

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  54. Melanie says:

    I only just found out about this. Will there be other opportunities for my kids to watch and learn?

  55. Lora says:

    Thank you so much! My daughter is so excited! We will be joining you next Monday!

  56. Jennifer Bryson says:

    I love this idea and am going to share it with my preschoolers and their families as I have moved to online teaching with all of this but want to clarify since I am in EDST (Eastern Daylight Savings Time) –Your time says 11 PST -are you still on Pacific Standard Time or did you switch to Daylight Savings so I am sure to help us all not miss this. Thanks.

  57. Bev says:

    Thank you! Our son is a total selkie lol and will LOVE this!! He’s a 10 year old in a private PADI Seal Team scuba training. He’s done 6 cage shark dives at PDZA & shark conservation is his calling.

    THANK Y’ALL with all my heart!

  58. Ashley Walls says:

    Will there be any future dates you will be online?

  59. Carolyn Campbell says:

    This is brilliant and we’ll be trying to tune into the virtual camp from Hong Kong! I have an inquisitive 7-year-old who loves the ocean and it’s inhabitants and he wants to know how you take breath samples.

  60. Sally James says:

    Just making sure you are doing this again next week?

    March 23 and 26th?

    Will amplify on Twitter if so.

  61. H says:

    I love this idea! Even as an “older” child I will definitely use and appreciate this program. If you need any ideas, may I suggest that you talk about sharks? I have been obsessed with them for many years. Thank you again!! 🙂

  62. Valentine says:

    This sounds amazing! Will you be posting videos when you’re finished with the lesson and chat? My almost 7 year old dolphin lover will love this, but we’re in South Korea so the timing won’t work to watch live…Thanks for sharing your creativity!

  63. Angela Larkin says:

    This is amazing! I have an 10 year old whose goal in life is to become a marine biologist – we will be following – can’t wait to share this with her.

  64. Christine Riggs says:

    Our son is very interested in matine biology and would love partcipating in this form of learning! So thankful for your willingness and creativity during this time!

  65. Rebecca says:

    This is amazing. My daughter is gonna love this!

  66. Dori says:

    LOVE this idea. My kid is 4 so probably a little young, but if there’s a littler-kid version we’d be totally in. (Also if there is a way to show on youtube since we’re not on FB or Instagram). Thanks so much for thinking of this.

  67. Eileen Cummings says:

    I think this is a wonderful opportunity. Our granddaughter wants to work with marine life and she’s only 9 but so fascinated! This will be a great learning opportunity for her and her 10 yr old sister. For this age be sure and insert a few videos of whales and dolphins swimming. Perhaps interaction with them.

  68. Rachel Boren says:

    Can’t wait until Monday! My kids and I will definitely be joining in!! We visit the nearby Marine Laboratory’s open house. I’ve got one kid who is especially interested in Marine Biology, he’s 5 years old. We have been doing school work at home, building Legos, nerf gun wars, reading books, playing board games, and lots and LOTS of Pokemon TCG games. Thanks again for this course!

  69. […] And something to join in with – a virtual marine biology camp […]

  70. K.Blease says:

    Great initiative! Can you watch outside of Facebook or Instagram? My kids don’t have either?

  71. Shawn Manner says:

    Yes, please!!’ GREAT idea!

  72. Jess says:

    Would love to hear about digestive systems and food chain, perhaps how our habits affect them – specifically trash / plastic.

  73. Amanda Wilson says:

    We plan on tuning in. My daughter wants to be a veterinarian or Marine Biologist. Thank you for giving your time and resources to help out kids while they are at home during this time.

  74. Sheri Decker says:

    Sounds fantastic! We are excited to tune in and THANK YOU!

  75. Jill says:

    I ways wanted to be a Marine Biologist( side tracked mom, went the Behavior specialist route and study/help children instead) and my daughter( 15) is very interested in Marine Biology. We are very excited to have this opportunity! Having just found out about this , we missed the first live cast on the 16th? Hoping there will be more!! Thankyou- what a wonderful way to learn some hands on science/marine biology from people who do this daily! ( Great way to pass some time while on quarantine)

  76. Lisa Green says:

    We will see you Monday at 11 am Pacific time! My kids will love it!

  77. Nicki Bradwell says:

    Hi,

    This sounds great!!!
    Today my son Jack (age 6) and I started learning about whales at home after watching Blue Planet II last night. We were fascinated to see the whales especially when they were sleeping. Today we decided to start a project learning about Whales, before we even saw your post on a Facebook page.

    Jack would like to know:
    – What do Orcas eat?
    – We saw some whales hanging upside down to sleep, do Orcas do this?
    – How many babies do Orcas have in one year?

    Thanks! We look forward to watching your videos.

    Nicki and Jack 🙂

    • oceansadmin says:

      Great questions! Orcas as a species are generalists. They eat prey from the size of herring to other whales. But the southern resident killer whales we study specialize on salmon, especially Chinook salmon. The whales you saw hanging upside down were probably sperm whales. We’ve never seen orcas do that, but maybe they do. Killer whales have a baby every 3-5 years. Their pregnancies last about 17 months, so they cannot reproduce every year. That means that recovery of endangered populations will be very slow.

  78. Dawnelle B says:

    I’m so excited about this! I wish I’d found this earlier. My class was just finishing our Whales Unit and planned on going on our annual whale watching field trip out of Westport the third week in April. I’d like to know if you recorded your previous camps and what link I could give out to my students so they can watch your next camps. Thank you for sharing your knowledge in such a fun way. : )

  79. Ronda Washinger says:

    I am a teacher in Pennsylvania. How long do you anticipate continuing the biweekly explorations? I think you are amazing! Thanks for offering this 🙂

    • oceansadmin says:

      Thanks so much, Ronda! Not that we needed a reminder, but this experience has really reminded us how much we value excellent teachers. We’ll do this as long as Seattle schools are closed, kids are interested, and our nonprofit has capacity to keep up with the demand. So far, we have topics scheduled for at least two more weeks. Thanks for tuning in.

  80. Carolina says:

    Love this idea! Will definitely tune in! Thank you for making this free and easily accessible!

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