Monday, June 16, 2014

Sea Star Wasting Syndrome

During our field trip last week to Larrabee State Park, we observed a pretty disturbing sight. Many ochre sea stars appeared dead. They were white, falling apart, and many seemed to be liquifying right in front of us. 

Then on the news this morning, there was a story about Sea Star Wasting Syndrome. It's something many scientists are studying, including local scientist Ben Minor at Western Washington University

This video explains some of the local efforts to understand the phenomenon

and this is the news story we listened to on the radio: 

Salmon Survival

Here is a video news story on King 5 about current research on marine survival of salmon in the Salish Sea. Local partners are participating in this study by sampling juvenile fish in Bellingham Bay as part of the Salish Sea Marine Survival Project. 

Seattle Aquarium Google Hangout

This morning, the 4th graders participated in a Google Hangout with Darcie from the Seattle Aquarium. 

She talked with us while standing in front of the Window on Washington Waters Exhibit!

As always, the students asked VERY thoughtful questions which Darcie answered well. There is particular interest among our students in Sea Star Wasting Syndrome which we observed taking a toll on Ochre Stars at Larrabee State Park last week. Jaymeson had a question about that.

Thank you so much for your time, Darcie!

Friday, June 13, 2014

Whale Museum Skype

Jenny Atkinson, Executive Director of The Whale Museum in Friday Harbor on San Juan Island, Skyped with our 4th graders TWO TIMES! 

She gave us a great presentation about what they do at the museum, which includes "promoting stewardship of whales and the Salish Sea ecosystem through education and research." 

She also helped us learn an awful lot about the Southern Resident Community of Orcas.

On our second Skype, she actually gave us a tour of the Museum! 

Look at those teeth! Orcas need teeth like this because they tear off pieces of meat and swallow it. We have molars because we need to chew our food before swallowing. 

This is their identification chart for the Southern Residents. It shows how all the whales in J, K, and L pods are in different family groups. 

One of the programs at the Museum is the Orca Adoption Program. Our classes are adopting 2 whales! 

We are adopting Granny, who is believed to be 103 years old! 

Leigh Calvez accessed from here 

Monica Wieland accessed from here

And we are adopting Yoda! More information and pictures coming soon. 

Thank you so much, Jenny. We thoroughly enjoyed our time with you and learned SO MUCH!

Girls On the Run!

Several 4th grade girls participated in the Girls on the Run program through the YMCA.

Here is a great slideshow made by Sarah's mom, Lauren, of pictures from the 5K they ran last weekend.

Way to go, girls! I'm really proud of you!

Mr. Pahl

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Skype With A Scientist!

Today, we were lucky enough to Skype with Carla, a research scientist with the Vancouver Aquarium

She works with the Cetacean Research Program.

We used our time with her to continue our learning about orcas in our area and beyond. This has been an extension of all the things we learned about salmon through the Nooksack Salmon Enhancement Association as well as our studies in science about the ocean. 

Did you know that there are killer whales they found who eat sharks almost exclusively? 

Did you know that Southern Residents (the orcas who spend most of their time near the San Juan Islands) eat almost exclusively salmon? This is one of the many reasons why it's so important for us to protect salmon and try to increase their numbers. 

One of the many questions our students had was "are there orcas all over the world?" This poster shows all the different species of killer whales around the world. Isn't it fantastic? 

Here is a map from the American Cetacean Society showing the worldwide range of orcas.  

Carla, thank you for spending so much time with us, sharing your knowledge, and answering our questions! 

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Mystery Skype!

This week, both 4th grade classes had the opportunity to Skype with other classes in the United States. It was so much fun!

They didn't know it ahead of time, but they were both Skyping with 4th grade students from JFK Elementary School in Franklin, Massachusetts!  

They have a blog, too. You can find them at

During our Skype, we found out that they have a Bellingham in Massachusetts, too! It is just outside of Franklin, where our Skype friends live. 

Please Comment!

What did you like about our Skype?

What did you learn? 

What are other questions you have for your new friends that you didn't get to ask during our Skype?