Tracking the Gentle Giants

Michelle Kinzel
San Diego Mesa College
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This third lesson in GeoMapApp uses data on whale habitats to familiarize students with using GeoMapApp to analyze scientific data sets.

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This lesson is appropriate for high school and undergraduate students.

Skills and concepts that students must have mastered

This activity is an introductory lesson in a 5 module series to learn basic GeoMapApp navigation and data usage skills and soe not require any prior skills or concept mastery. It is recommended that Lessons 1 and 2 be completed prior to this third lesson.

How the activity is situated in the course

This activity is the 3rd in a series of 5 lessons designed to introduce students to the software mapping program GeoMapApp. Lessons 1-3 are intended to build basic skills and cover concepts of seafloor topography, using real world data, seafloor mapping and satellite telemetry. Lessons 4 and 5 build on skills learned in the first 3 lessons and include higher order thinking skills and scientific inquiry.


Content/concepts goals for this activity

At the end of the lesson, students will be able to
  • Use basic GeoMapApp skills and mapping software functionality to explore real world scientific data sets collected by marine mamal biologists and oceanographers.
  • Examine distribution and movements of blue whales, bowhead whales and Right whales based on satellite telemetry data collected with satellite tags and the ARGOS satellite system
  • Add oceanographic features, including Sea Surface Temperature and Primary Prod

Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity


Other skills goals for this activity


Description of the activity/assignment

This third lesson in the GeoMapApp course begins with a review of the scientific method, then discusses how it is applied to whale habitat research using satellites. A series of instructions then shows students how to use GeoMapApp to explore data from such research.

Determining whether students have met the goals

Activity includes 21 student questions, for which a key is provided in the instructor version.

More information about assessment tools and techniques.

Teaching materials and tips

Other Materials

Supporting references/URLs

Lagerquist, B.A., K.M. Stafford and B.R. Mate. 2000. Dive characteristics of satellite‐monitored blue whales (Balaenoptera musculus) off the central California coast. Marine Mammal Science 16(2):375‐391

B. R. Mate, G. K. Krutzikowsky and M. H. Winsor. 2000. Satellite‐monitored movements of radio‐tagged bowhead whales in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas during the late‐summer feeding season and fall migration . Canadian Journal of Zoology. 78:1168‐1181 (2000).

G.K. Krutzikowski and B.R. Mate. 2000. Dive and surfacing characteristics of bowhead whales (Balaena mysticetus) in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas. Canadian Journal of Zoology. 78:1182‐1198 (2000).

Baumgartner, Mark F.; Mate, Bruce R. Summer and fall habitat of North Atlantic right whales (Eubalaena glacialis) inferred from satellite telemetry. Canadian Journal of Fisheries & Aquatic Sciences, Mar2005, Vol. 62 Issue 3, p527‐543.

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