Water Transparency and Whales

A Lesson from the 38th Voyage of the Charles W. Morgan

About this Lesson

During the 38th Voyage of the Charles W. Morgan, Dr. Lisa Gilbert led shipboard science projects, gathering information on the weather, water, birds, mammals and even trash encountered along the way. Dr. Gilbert and her assistants, the 38th Voyagers used modern instruments like GPS to determine location and a microscope to analyze plankton.  They recorded observations in a log much like the ones used by generations of seafarers before them.

Inspired by the 38th Voyage, graduate student Alexandra McInturf and Dr. Gilbert created a new science unit for middle school teachers.  The six lessons in the unit merge history with science to encourage an enduring interdisciplinary connection between modern marine science and the experience of the nineteenth-century whaler. 

This lesson, "Water Transparency and Whales" is the first of six lessons in the unit "Science on the 38th Voyage of the Charles W. Morgan," funded in part by Williams College.

Learning Objectives for this Lesson:

- Students understand the concept of Secchi depth, and are able to determine this depth visually from the video

- Students understand how photosynthesis is related to Secchi depth

- Students are able to predict which factors may influence water clarity as determined by Secchi depth

- Students are able to analyze data to determine the relationship between Secchi depth and the base of the photic zone

- Students can use Secchi depth to make further predictions about the ecosystem and food web

Next Generation Science Standards:

1.-MS-LS2-1.Analyze and interpret data to provide evidence for the effects of resource availability on organisms and populations of organisms in an ecosystem

2.-MS-LS2-4. Construct an argument supported by empirical evidence that changes to physical or biological components of an ecosystem affect populations

Learn more about the Secchi disk measurements during the 38th Voyage, here.


Created By
Lisa Gilbert, Alexandra McInturf
Grade Level
General Interest, Science

Links to Lesson PDFs

The Lesson

Water Transparency and Whales : A Lesson from the 38th Voyage of the Charles W. Morgan

Supplements to the Lesson