COVID 19 Things You Can Do to Connect Kids to the Ocean

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#18 Orca Families: Mother’s Day Edition

In honor of Mother’s Day this past Sunday, today’s activity is about orca’s matriarchal family dynamics, one of the most intricate family systems of any animal species. Much like humans (and unlike many other animal species), orcas or killer whales as they are commonly known, stay in the same families throughout their entire life. Each family, or pod, is a complicated system with its own unique language and matriarchal structure. Today kids will learn more about these family dynamics and about the threats that they face because of human behaviors.

Paper and markers for poster campaign
4 quarters and 13 pennies


  1. Watch this TED-Ed video about orca’s matriarchal structures.
  2. Answer the following questions:
  • How is an orca’s family different from other animal species?
  • What are two ways a grandmother orca supports her family?
  • What is your favorite fact that you learned about orca families?
  • Orcas families hunt together and hunting techniques are passed down through generations. What is something that your family has passed down through the generations?
  1. The video mentioned that the decline of salmon populations is resulting in less food for orcas. In this section, kids will learn more about overfishing and create their own campaign to advocate for sustainable fishing to protect orcas. Exploring overfishing this way:
    1. Start with 4 quarters (these represent a pod of orcas) and two piles of pennies, one with ten (these represent the salmon) and a pile of 3 set aside.
    2. Imagine the orcas go hunting for salmon. Remove 4 pennies from the pile of 10 and put them in the pile set aside.
    3. Now imagine the salmon reproduce, add the pile of 7 pennies to the original pile.
    4. Next, a large fishing boat comes through with a big net for catching salmon. Remove 12 pennies.
    5. Imagine the orcas come back to hunt for more salmon. Notice how much less food is available.
    6. Based on this activity, write your own definition of overfishing.
    7. Make a poster campaign encouraging people to stop overfishing and choose sustainable seafood. Include some of the information that you learned about orcas.

Word Bank
Matriarchy: a group or system led by females

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Arcadia Davies, Ocean Matters Youth Advocate Leader, recently graduated from Miami University with an interdisciplinary degree focusing on marine ecology and community engagement. She is passionate about connecting communities, especially youth, in ocean conservation projects. During college she practiced communicating science to the public through serving as the communication intern at The Island School in The Bahamas and taking numerous classes in marine ecology, creative writing, journalism, photography and community engagement. Arcadia has loved the ocean since a young age and strives to share that love with others.