Marine Mammal Senses

(Ages 5 to 8)

A dynamic, multimedia presentation comparing and contrasting sensory systems of marine mammals and humans, what they are used for and why they are different. Review major groups of marine mammals, including sea otters and polar bears. Learn what makes dolphins, whales, seals, sea lions and manatees unique and exquisitely adapted to life in the ocean. Discuss human impacts making it harder for them to use their senses for everyday living. Brainstorm what humans can do to be better environmental stewards.

Program Format

The program begins with a brief review of what properties make an animal a mammal.

The major groups of marine mammals are introduced followed by a discussion on how sensory systems help us adapt to our environment. Students compare and contrast marine mammal sensory systems with that of humans and discover some of the extraordinary ways marine mammals are different in order to adapt to an ocean environment.

The program concludes with a discussion about human impact on the ocean that makes it harder for these animals to live and what we can all do in our own lives to make a difference.

10 to 15 minutes are allotted for a question and answer session. Program includes video demonstrating marine mammal senses.

Program Objectives

Students will:

  • Explore the traits of mammals and what makes marine mammals unique

  • Compare and contrast sensory systems of humans with that of multiple types of marine mammals

  • Learn how sensory systems help us survive in our environment

  • Develop an appreciation for marine mammal abilities as well as how humans are impacting them and what can be done to mitigate those problems.

Standards, Disciplinary Core Ideas, Cross Cutting Concepts and Science and Engineering Practices

Science and Engineering Practices

  • Asking questions and defining problems

  • Obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information

Disciplinary Core Ideas

  • LS 1.A – Structure and Function

  • LS 1.D – Information Processing

  • ESS 3.C – Human Impacts on Earth Systems

Crosscutting Concepts

  • Cause and effect

  • Structure and function


Adaptations, senses, echolocation, vibrissae, mammals, stream lined, reduce, recycle, admire, conservation, seal, sea lion, dolphins, whales, ocean

Connection Technology

We use Zoom to connect with participants. The education department will send you a link with instructions on how to connect with us for the program. In order to insure your presentation goes smoothly, we ask that you do not connect via WIFI. A cabled connection to the internet helps insure transmission of HD video files included in the presentation.