If the Internet is a vast ocean of ideas, WhaleNet is among its most frequently visited ports. A virtual sea of fascinating information focusing on the world’s largest mammals, STEM Education, research, and Citizen Science, WhaleNet is sponsored by Wheelock College, with initially funding from the National Science Foundation. Whether it’s used for classroom education, as an at-home study tool, or by an armchair Captain Ahab, WhaleNet ignites the imaginations of children and adults alike when they access real-time marine mammal satellite monitoring data. When you climb aboard WhaleNet, you join people around the world with a sense of adventure and a desire to learn. On any given day, thousands of students, teachers, researchers and scientists point-and-click their way to the valuable information and unique educational opportunities we provide.
What is WhaleNet?
WhaleNet is an interactive, award-winning web site that offers engaging hands-on activities, real-time satellite data from whales, seals and dolphins, as well as years of right whale sighting data from both the feeding and calving areas. We also offer exciting scientific discoveries while combining the best in education, environmental awareness, and technology. At WhaleNet, researchers share their personal experiences about studying whales. Individually and in classroom groups, our surfers send, receive and share scientific data. Millions of people around the world share a unique glimpse inside the daily lives of marine scientists and the creatures they study.
WhaleNet is used by people who study the marine environment, and by non-scientists who want to experience the excitement of marine research. By combining a dynamic team of scientists with the latest whale research data, WhaleNet provides a global source of accessible information and allows for exciting interaction between students, teachers and researchers – Citizen Science.
The primary goals of WhaleNet’s worldwide collaborators are: facilitating and coordinating learning in a variety of fields; enhancing general interest in science; developing problem-solving and other critical-thinking skills; and increasing environmental awareness. Educators also use WhaleNet’s vast resources to enhance curricula in STEM education, science, geography, math, reading, writing, and of course, computers.
History of WhaleNet – The current WhaleNet is an outgrowth of the EnviroNet Program, funded by the National Science Foundation, at Simmons College. A Marine Monitoring Project coordinated by Jerry Locke and Norm Hjort was an original EnviroNet program. EnviroNet was directed by Karen Talentino, Richard Nickerson, and Paul Colombo.
Connecting to WhaleNet
Everyone with access to the Internet can log onto WhaleNet’s home page. Simply point your graphic browser software to:
For people new to the site, WhaleNet offers instructions for site navigation.
Sightings – What You’ll Find On-line
A world of information is available on WhaleNet. You can trace the migration of a Hooded seal, or discover what it’s like to be on a real-life whale-watch boat. Travel the world with environmental researchers and watch how they help whales stranded on beaches or tangled in commercial fishing nets. Whether you’re a student or a scientist, there’s no end to what you can learn here.
A world of information is available on WhaleNet. You can trace the migration of a Hooded seal, or discover what it’s like to be on a real-life whale-watch boat. Travel the world with environmental researchers and watch how they help whales stranded on beaches or tangled in commercial fishing nets. Send a question by e-mail to our featured marine experts. Whether you’re a student or a scientist, there’s no end to what you can learn here. To help reach the broadest audience possible, key elements of WhaleNet are available in Spanish.
Satellites track the world’s weather as well as its news. But did you know satellites also help scientists track the migration patterns of whales, seals and turtles? WhaleNet provides real-time, satellite data on the global movements of specially tagged whales and other marine animals. This unique research project was introduced on-line in early 1996, when scientists tagged a rare Northern Right Whale. Up to 12 additional tags will be introduced and tracked on WhaleNet each year. Check in regularly to follow your favorite animal around the world, or to learn how satellite technology contributes to our understanding of the environment.
Want to know how Beluga whales hear each other? Ask a marine mammal acoustics specialist! Wonder how deep the Mediterranean Sea is? E-mail an oceanographer! Curious if whales ever get sick? Talk to a whale bacteriologist! It’s all possible on WhaleNet.
Scientists active in marine research have answered visitors’ on-line inquiries since January 1996. Students can e-mail questions to a variety of scientists in marine-related fields. It’s a fun, personal and exciting way to learn about scientific principles or to ask questions about real-world research. Questions and answers are archived on-line for everyone to review.
Be your own cyber-scientist with WhaleNet’s awesome collection of on-line data, case studies and news from the marine world. WhaleNet’s Facebook page can be found at https://www.facebook.com/WhaleNetatWheelockCollege and our Twitter page at https://twitter.com/Whale_Net. Our databases provide a system for collecting, sharing and analyzing scientific data and related information. Students can post data from their own whale watch trips, then compare it to other data collected by students around the world.
For scientists, WhaleNet provides data from stranding research databases, the Ocean Alliance’s ECOTOX research, the Mingan Island Cetacean Study’s Blue Whale research, and Allied Whale’s Humpback research catalogues. Access is simple and user-friendly, allowing for queries by students and researchers. By including national and international whale information, this database is useful for year-round study by professionals and amateurs alike.
WhaleNet is at the forefront of whale and marine conservation. All the latest data and reports on the endangered Northern Right Whale are posted here, for example. We are the recognized public information source for Right Whale conservation programs, sightings and recovery plans.
Teachers will find practical lesson plans and classroom activities posted throughout the WhaleNet Web site. Try the “Right Whale: RAT” unit, which shows teachers and students how to investigate the movements of endangered whales in their calving grounds. Search our “Educational Resources and Links” area, as well as the WhaleNet curriculum materials (wncurriculum listserv) archive of teacher-tested, educational activities.
WhaleNet surfers of all kinds can download an exciting collection of whale and dolphin slide shows and digital movies on a variety of related topics.or better yet, bring a life-size whale into your school.
Jonah had nothing on today’s students! WhaleNet offers plans for Lucy the Fin Whale, an inflatable sea creature that students and teachers can build, then walk inside. This 55-foot model, designed to-scale by marine scientists and teachers, costs about $80 to make and fits into a duffel bag that’s easy for one person to carry.
Bring your thinking cap to WhaleNet’s “What’s It?” section and challenge your skills of observation and identification. Is that a fin or a tail? An eye or a blowhole? You be the scientist, using educated guesses and data from our site.
Writing a research paper or an essay about the world’s largest or most-endangered marine mammals? Search WhaleNet’s extensive collection of on-line resources to find just the information you need. Examine reference materials useful to students and educators alike.
A Whale of A Pet
Okay, so you can’t take it home, but you can visit it 24 hours a day. WhaleNet provides a link to the Allied Whale Web site at the College of the Atlantic in Bar Harbor, Maine. There you can search an exhaustive Humpback Whale Fluke Catalog and inquire about any whale you see. Each whale in the catalog has a name and a full set of vital statistics.
The WhaleNet Home Page is an excellent place from which to explore other sites full of valuable information. Our collection of weather links, for example, offers essential tools for marine researchers and weather buffs alike.
WhaleNet collaborates with numerous whale-watch companies to ensure that students get the most out of a live whale-watch experience. These companies provide WhaleNet Information Packets to schools, and support student investigations during their trips. Some even have public information displays onboard, including a latitude/longitude readout, nautical charts, and in some cases, depth and water-temperature indicators. In these supportive learning environments, students can observe, plot and record their ship’s position and progress.