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WebQuest: Sensory Biology and the

Plight of the Right Whales

Created by Drs. Jill C. Fegley and Sara M. Lindsay, University of Maine

Introduction Task Process Evaluation Conclusion Teacher Page Credits


Clip Art of two students working at a computerEach student will become an "expert" on one of the topics below by visiting the informational websites associated with the topic they select. Be sure to take notes and record the source (citation) of your information as you research your topic.

After completing this task you will reassemble as a group and share what you have learned with your teammates. Your task (as a group) is to develop either a technological method of right whale detection for ships or a fishing gear modification based on the knowledge you have gained about the whale's sensory system. After you have developed your new technology you will need to write a short proposal (1-2 pages) and create a presentation to secure Agency funding for your project.

Picture of manatee swimming


Task #1: Prior to selecting an individual topic, you should read the following two articles. The Oceanus written by article Michael Moore at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute outlines the issues associated with the endangered right whale. The American Scientist article provides backgound information on how marine mammals perceive sound and it discusses current research into using bioacoustics to protect endangered manatees from boat collisions.

Moore, M. 2004. Whither the North Atlantic Right Whale? Oceanus 43: 1-5.

Gerstein, E.R. 2002. Manatees, Bioacoustics and Boats. American Scientist 90:154-163.
If this link is not working, try accessing the article from the archives using the author index. Or, teachers can contact American Scientist directly to request permission to use the article in their classes.



Task #2: Each student in your group should select one of the following research topics:

Clip Art of a Clipboard


Click on the topic you have selected and it will bring you to another web page with a list of web links that are specific to your research area. Read through the web pages and take notes on pertinent information. Be sure to also write down which web page the information came from.



Task #3: After conducting web-based research on your topic, all members of your group will need to get together to discuss what you have learned. Each student should provide a short, verbal report of their findings.


Clip Art of a brainstormTask #4: As a group you will need to do some brainstorming to come up with an innovative solution to reducing right whale entanglements or collisions. After you have developed a good idea, discuss it with your teacher to make sure that it is feasible and then write a brief proposal of your idea. The proposal should be no longer than 2 pages and should include important background information as well as how you intend to help reduce right whale mortalities.


Clip Art of slide projector and screen

Task #5: As a group you will need to put together a PowerPoint presentation. The presentation should include information from each of the research areas and should outline your innovative idea. You will be competing against other teams of research specialists who have come together to try and solve the plight of the right whale. The substance and quality of your presentation will no doubt have an impact on who will receive funding for their project.

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Introduction Task Evaluation Conclusion Teacher Page Credits

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Fegley & Lindsay - Last Updated Sept. 2008