The Sounding of the Whale: Science and Cetaceans in the Twentieth Century

Speaker: D. Graham Burnett
Sunday, March 11, 2012
2:00 pm – 3:00 pm
Harvard Museum of Natural History

From the Bible to Melville, whales were historically depicted as terrifying, mysterious monsters–deserving only of slaughter. Burnett will discuss how 20th century scientific research and environmental awareness has led to an appreciation of whales as highly evolved, complex mammals critical to marine ecosystems and deserving of regulatory protection. Regular admission rates apply.

Harvard Museum of Natural History

New physical science activity available on the Discovery of Sound in the Sea website

Discovery of Sound in the Sea (DOSITS; is one of the most comprehensive Internet resources on underwater sound. The DOSITS website and its associated educational materials introduce the science and uses of underwater sound and provide easy, efficient access to timely peer-reviewed content on the effects of underwater sound on marine animals. In addition to in-depth science content, the DOSITS website contains interactive galleries, including an extensive Audio Gallery (link) containing over 60 examples of sound sources found in the global ocean. The DOSITS website also includes a special section for teachers (link) with resources and classroom activities.

The DOSITS team is excited to announce the availability of a new, inquiry-based activity (link)
that explores how the different properties of water can cause underwater sound to change. Using simple materials, students design experiments and make predictions on how underwater sound may be altered as a result of temperature changes, the introduction of bubbles, and other modifications to the water column.

In addition to the new activity, the front page interactive has been updated to reflect new content available on the DOSITS site. Please take time to explore information on Right Whales,
acoustic tagging of marine mammals, ocean noise budgets, sounds of hydrothermal vents, and other new content areas!

The information presented on the DOSITS website and its associated educational materials is based solely on current published scientific research, and all content has undergone a thorough review by a panel of scientific experts. The Discovery of Sound in the Sea website has been developed and produced by the University of Rhode Island’s (URI) Office of Marine Programs (OMP) in partnership with Marine Acoustics, Inc., with support from the Office of Naval Research, National Science Foundation, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Marine Fisheries Service.

Please visit the site and let us know what you think via our public input survey (link). To receive more information about the Discovery of Sound in the Sea Project, please contact Celia Cackowski via email

Professional Development Workshop at New Bedford Whaling Museum

“Schooling With Whales,” a Professional Development Workshop at the New Bedford Whaling Museum will be offered on the first weekend in April – Saturday, April 2 from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Sunday April 3 from 12:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. This ten-hour professional development course, co-sponsored by the Museum Institute for Teaching Science (MITS), will introduce teachers of grades 3-8 to whale/cetacean related topics which can be used to teach concepts prescribed by state science and mathematics frameworks.

For more information contact:

Robert C. Rocha, Jr.

New Bedford Whaling Museum

Science Programs Manager

(508) 717-6849

Bowhead Whale Podcast from EOL

One Species at a Time Podcast Series from the Encyclopedia of Life:  Bowhead Whale, Balaena mysticetus

Writer Karen Romano Young takes an icebreaker to Barrow, Alaska, to join in the festival of Naluqatak and learn about the intimate relationship between the Inupiat Eskimos and the bowhead whale. Listen as she tells Ari Daniel Shapiro how the whole community turns out for whale hunt, how the bowhead nourishes the Inupiat, both physically and spiritually—and how the hunt is proving to be an unexpected gift to scientists.  Listen to the podcast on the Encyclopedia of Life Learning + Education website, meet the featured scientists and find intriguing extra audio, video and images!

Great Whales Curriculum for Grades 6-8

The Great Whales, developed by the Marine mammal Institute at Oregon State University is now available. The curriculum is geared for Grades 6-9.  You can locate the curriculum on DLESE (Digital Library of Earth System Education). This takes you to the search page for DLESE.  Enter the title  The Great Whales, Select grade level 6-8, Resource Type  –  Curriculum.  Then select  Search.  It will appear at the top of the page. The curriculum appears on the website with “download PDF file”.  It is 119 pages.

Lecture: New Bedford Whaling Museum

Man & Whales Lecture Series concludes Wednesday,  May 19, at 7:30 pm.  A Case For Oil, with George Mock and Peter Tyack.

Blubber was removed from whales, rendered and sold as the oil used for light, heat, tanning and other products.  But what about products made from the oil found in the melon of toothed whales?  What’s its function in the lives of odontocetes, especially the sperm whale?  George Mock, Treasurer and Chairman of the Board, and former President of Nye Lubricants, Inc., successfully guided his company through the transition from natural to synthetic oils. His presentation will focus on the 160 year-old company’s use of melon and sperm case oil in its product lines prior to the 1970s. Peter Tyack, is Senior Scientist, Biology Department and Director of the Marine Mammal Center at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. He studies social behavior and acoustic communication in whales and dolphins and will share the results of his research, which has given us a greater understanding of the function and form of the sperm whale’s case.

The lecture starts at 7:30 pm in the Museum Theater.  A reception at 6:30 pm is held in the Jacobs Family Gallery before the lecture. Admission is FREE.

Also… Please join us to see the whales on Saturday, May 29!  The Whaling Museum is offering a unique opportunity to see whales on Saturday, May 29. A special cruise is available in partnership with the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society, with a mid-day departure at Hyannis Whale Watcher Cruises from Barnstable Harbor. Tickets are $75 per person, payable in advance, which includes roundtrip transportation from the Whaling Museum to Barnstable. A portion of the proceeds will benefit the Whaling Museum and WDCS.

For this free lecture and/or the ticketed cruise, please RSVP: Pam Lowe, (508) 997-0046, ext. 100, or email

Great Whales Curriculum for Grades 6-9 on DLESE

The Great Whales, developed by the Marine mammal Institute at Oregon State University, is now available. The curriculum is geared for Grades 6-9.  You can locate the curriculum on DLESE – Digital Library of Earth System Education. The Great Whales curriculum offers engaging teaching activities that explore the past and present status of whales, whale biology and anatomy, current research to discover whale migratory patterns as well as defining their winter and summer habitats. Different species of great whales are presented with information about their biology, migration patterns, habitat needs, exploitation, and current threats to different species.

Record Number of Right Whales Sighted in Block Island Sound

A NOAA marine mammal aerial survey team based at the Northeast Fisheries Science Center’s laboratory in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, has sighted nearly 100 endangered North Atlantic right whales feeding in Block Island Sound, the largest group ever documented in those waters.

A “flukeprint” is the whale equivalent of a footprint. It appears on the water’s surface when a whale dives and when just underwater flexes its tail, or fluke, upward to help propel itself deeper. This creates a smooth patch of water on the surface that looks somewhat like an oil slick, and to whale spotters is one of the telltale signs whales are present.

All of the whales were actively surface feeding, indicating dense patches of copepods, the tiny marine zooplankton on which right whales feed. During this time of year, right whales are migrating through southern New England waters generally headed northward to feed at different times and places throughout the summer.

North Atlantic right whales are particularly susceptible to collisions with vessels, causing serious injuries and deaths of the animals. The likelihood of a seriously harmful collision is reduced when vessel speeds are slowed.

The whales were sighted both within and just outside of waters that are also part of a seasonal management area for large whales intended to reduce the risk of harmful collisions. Within the area, vessels 65 ft or larger are required to abide by a speed limit of 10 knots or less between November 1 and April 30 of each year. NOAA has extended protection in adjacent areas by implementing a short-term management area that mariners are expected, but not required, to either avoid or to voluntarily reduce speeds to 10 knots or less while transiting.

Spring Excursion – Seabird & Whale Tale Trip

Join the New England Coastal Wildlife Alliance (NECWA) for an all day marine excursion to view seabirds, whales, dolphins, basking sharks and ocean sunfish along the Mass coast, Sunday, June 13 from 8-4.  NECWA is a volunteer, non-profit organization.  All trip proceeds go to support marine wildlife research, education and conservation.

Enjoy our guided wildlife commentary by David Clapp (Natural History Services), Jim Sweeney (South Shore Bird Club) and Joanne Jarzobski (Capt. John Boats). Travel aboard the “Tails of the Sea”, a 110’ luxury commercial whale-watching vessel owned and operated by Capt. John Boats (

Leave from the Plymouth Town Pier at 8 am and return by 4 pm. While offshore, we will conduct a plankton tow and demonstrations, chumming for seabirds and a free onboard nature raffle.

Tickets: Pre-Sale $90 and then $100 after May 31, 2010.  Go to to download the registration form.  Space is limited to ensure lots of viewing room along the rail.  Group rates available.  For more trip information, call Krill at 508-566-0009.

This marine adventure is an annual fundraising event for NECWA and supports marine wildlife education, research and conservation in the New England area.  Assistance provided by Capt. John Boats, Mass Audubon South Shore Sanctuaries,  South Shore Bird Club, Natural History Services and Bridgewater State College.

Job Opening – Whale Center Operations Coordinator

The Whale Center of New England in Gloucester, MA, is looking for an Operations Coordinator.  Tasks include bookkeeping; managing a membership/donor database; overseeing and (at times) staffing a Visitor Center/Gift Shop; general office duties including payroll, correspondence, record-keeping.  Position also includes (with provided training) responding to occasional marine mammal strandings.  A full job description is posted online.  Interested applicants should send a resume and cover letter to Executive Director Mason Weinrich at