Get Free STEM Curricula, Track Sharks and Other Marine Animals at Ocearch Site
Whether you’re a STEM educator or just fascinated by sharks and other marine life, you’ll finding a wealth of interesting information and resources at the Ocearch.org site. You can track the movements and learn the history of a variety of tagged marine animals including sharks, whales, dolphins, seals, turtles, and more. Teachers can download accredited STEM curricula at no cost. You and your students can install the Ocearch app and even interact with the researchers. And, if you like what you see, you can make a donation to support ongoing research and help protect the world’s oceans.
Ocearch is a non-profit organization created to allow scientists from the U.S. and abroad to collaborate and gather data about the ocean and its inhabitants that had never before been collected. Ocearch scientists develop and utilize innovative research techniques, educate the public through outreach programs, and create educational STEM curricula with the ultimate goal being to restore balance to the ocean’s ecosystem. Ocearch has partnered with SeaWorld to accomplish its mission.
At last count, during 39 expeditions, Ocearch has tagged 416 oceanic creatures and three Georgia alligators (Audrey, Cypress, and Sally). A great deal has been learned by tracking these animals. For example, in the two years after being tagged, a tiger shark named Sereia swam 4,000 miles from Mozambique to Indonesia – the longest tiger shark migration ever documented. This illustrates the need for international cooperation in the protection of the world’s oceans and their resources.
The Shark Tracker site and app
The Shark Tracker site at Ocearch.org/tracker/ went live in 2012 and displays an interactive map. With more than 320 having been tagged, various shark species make up the largest category of animals being tracked. The site defaults to the shark tracking configuration, but selecting a different group of creatures to track is quick and easy. You simply click the Animal Groups icon and choose between all animals, alligators, dolphins, seals, turtles, or sharks. You can build a filter to find animals based on stage of life, sex, tracking time, location, and more. A quick click on the My Location button will zoom in on your general area.
The map displays icons showing locations of tagged animals that have recently “pinged” Ocearch trackers. Hovering over one displays a box with the animal’s name, type, size, weight, sex, and even a photograph along with the time and date the latest tracking information was received. Clicking on buttons within the display box will open a visual representation of tracking data received over time so that the viewer can see where the animal has traveled.
Hovering over the About link at the top of the page displays a link for downloading the free Ocearch app for iPhone or Android. The download links take you to the Apple Store or Google
Play to get the app.
One of Ocearch’s stated goals is to “promote environmental awareness and to prepare students of all ages” for STEM careers. The organization offers free resources for educators including scientific research papers, STEM packets, and accredited curriculum packages for grades K-2, 3-5, and 6-8. Just hover over the Programs button to display links to scientific research and educational materials.
Downloadable teaching curriculum packages include overviews, presentations, lesson plans, and more. Workshops are also available for educators. Ocearch even offers tours of its research vessel and interactive sessions with its scientists.
Donations and store purchases
As you might imagine, it takes a significant amount of funding for Ocearch to do the research and make all of these resources available at no cost to educators and the public. You can support the organization by making a tax-deductible, voluntary donation by clicking on the Give link at the top of the page. You can also support the organization by making a purchase from its online store. Just click on the Shop link to find categories of merchandise for men, women, and children.
There are a number of great reasons why groups like Ocearch do what they do. For example, runoff of synthetic fertilizers into the Mississippi River has been found to cause algae blooms in the Gulf of Mexico that kill millions of fish (inverse.com/science/the-gulf-of-mexico-dead-zone-is-the-worst-science-summer-ritual). In another example, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), an estimated eight million metric tons of plastic waste entered the world’s oceans in a single year, “wreaking havoc on marine ecosystems” (oceanservice.noaa.gov/hazards/marinedebris/plastics-in-the-ocean.html).
Ocearch’s research has shown that marine creatures travel from continent to continent, crossing jurisdictional boundaries and traversing waters where they are not protected by government regulations. Ocearch’s solution is to gather and freely distribute scientific data with the help of their international partners and donations in order to educate the population in the hope that knowing what is adversely impacting marine creatures will lead to beneficial changes.
Whether you are an educator or just have an interest in the marine environment and its residents, you’ll find some valuable and interesting resources at Ocearch.org. Consider making a tax-deductible donation or purchasing something from the online store while you’re there.