Marine species, such as whales and dolphins, are an important part of our ecosystem. They’re also a favourite of many children, who fall in love with them through movies, TV, and stories.

If this sounds like your kids, take this opportunity to teach them how to help protect these magnificent and endangered animals.

1. Study your favourite whales and marine species

This is a fun way to get started! Borrow some age-appropriate books from the library and check out videos on YouTube or documentaries on Netflix and the National Film Board. A good mammal to focus on is the Southern Resident killer whale, an endangered species living off the southwest coast of Canada. Did you know that these whales have their own unique dialects and travel with their mothers for life?

2. Learn about conservation efforts

Many groups and non-profit organizations are taking special action to help protect marine animals. The Government of Canada is committed to supporting the recovery of Southern Resident killer whales by improving access to an adequate food supply, restoring coastal salmon habitats, reducing underwater noise from marine traffic, and strengthening scientific research to inform future actions.

3. Explore local waterways

Whether you live near an ocean, lake, river, or stream, the kids will enjoy checking out any wildlife, like turtles, frogs, fish, or birds. You can talk about the food chain and explain how smaller marine species help feed larger whales and animals.

4. Keep your eyes on the water

If you’re out boating, you can keep the kids busy and having fun by asking them to watch for wildlife. You can explain that it’s important to keep our eyes on the water and report sightings of marine mammals that need help. If you see a tail, fin, or spray—slow down and stay away. Any accidental contact between your vessel or gear and a marine mammal must be reported by law.
Keeping a minimum of 100 metres away from most whales, dolphins, and porpoises is now the law. The distance requirement is greater for some species, such as the Southern Resident killer whale in British Columbia or St. Lawrence Estuary Beluga in the Atlantic Ocean.

5. Minimize pollution

Talk to your kids about the connection between all bodies of water, big and small, and the harmful impact pollution has on all kinds of marine species. Do your part by recycling properly at home, and consider visiting a shoreline near you to safely clean up any debris that may get into the water.

—NC


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