Don't ya just love how schools dole out homework assignments for the parents? Well, at least these were fun and educating. When I got home from Texas, my wonderful husband, bless his heart, had not gone through the boys' backpacks to check for said assignments so it was a shock to both of us when we had one weekend to accomplish three tasks.
I had a good time explaining family lineage to Garrett and he liked cutting and glueing the leaves!
It was his idea to cut the grass paper like this, I think it made a world of difference!
On to the next project: a seven-year timeline of significant events in Garrett's life. This one made me a little sad. Time flies by SO FAST!
and the one that was more educational than fun was the
Endangered Species Posterboard:
The whole report was so good, and interesting! Garrett chose the Sperm Whale because "they're cool" enjoy reading for yourself if you'd like.
Endangered Animal Report: The Sperm Whale
Reference One - Reference Two - Reference Three - Reference Four - Reference Five - Reference Six - Reference Seven
Sperm Whales are marine mammals that live in all of the world’s oceans sticking mostly to the tropical and cool waters of the Pacific near the equator. The Sperm Whale is the largest whale with teeth. In fact, it is the largest animal with teeth in the whole world. The Sperm Whale was named because of the white stuff called spermaceti oil (wax) that is in the spermaceti organ in its head. The Sperm Whale has a very large head. In the males the head alone can be one third its body length and is shaped like a box. The Sperm Whale has the largest and heaviest brain of all animals. Even though its brain is not big compared to its head or body, the adult male’s brain can weigh an average of 15.4 pounds.
Most whales have smooth skin but the Sperm Whale’s skin is bumpy, like a prune and is gray. They have a thick layer of blubber (-the fat of a whale and other sea mammals, from which oil is obtained) about 4-12 inches thick. Sperm Whales have often been seen with white scar-like marks on their bodies, mostly on their head and they’re believed to be from squids attacking as the whales feed.
Like most whales, the Sperm Whale breathes air. Their blowhole is shaped like an “S” and is on the left side of their head near the front about 20 inches long. They spout (breathe) 3-4 times a minute unless they’ve been diving, then it speeds up to 6-7 times a minute. Sperm Whales have flippers that are five feet long and about three feet wide. The dorsal fin (- the main fin located on the back of fishes and certain marine mammals) of a Sperm Whale is about two thirds down the back and is the shape of a triangle (some would say that the Sperm Whale doesn’t have a dorsal fin, just a small hump on the whales back). The fluke (- either of the two lobes of a whales tail) is thick and also in the shape of a triangle. You can tell a Sperm Whale is about to dive when they lift their flukes very high out of the water.
Male Sperm whales are larger than females. The males can grow to be as long as 52-60 feet long while the females are about 40-46 feet long. They weigh between 27.5 tons (female) and 55 tons (males)! When they are born both male and female are only about 13 feet long weighing only one ton. The female Sperm Whales have babies (calves) every four to six years and are pregnant anywhere between 12 months and 18 months (on average 16 months). When the calf is born it comes out tail first and knows by instinct to swim to the surface of the ocean to take its first breath within 10 seconds, sometimes the mother whale helps and within half an hour, the calf already knows how to swim. The calves drink milk from their mother for the first 2-3 years of its life, taking in about 45 pounds of milk per day. Male Sperm Whales “grow up” at about 18-19 years of age and the females at age 9-10. A female whale will have 7-10 babies in her lifetime. Sperm Whales life span is between 40 (females) and 80 (males) years.
As mentioned earlier, the Sperm Whales dive. They dive for their food. They are carnivores, eating mostly large squid, octopuses, demersal rays and skate but have been known to attack and eat sharks too, like the megamouth shark caught being attacked off the coast of Indonesia in 1998. Sperm Whales eat about a ton of food a day. In order to get to their food source they have to dive an average of about 400 meters (1312 feet) and lasts between 30-45 minutes. They can dive as far down as 3000 meters (9842 feet) and can hold their breath for up to two hours. They use their seven-inch, two-pound teeth to eat these bottom feeders. The teeth in their upper jaw never come down (erupt) and when their mouth is closed their bottom teeth fit into sockets in the upper jaw. Sperm Whales have 50-60 teeth in that lower jaw.
Sperm Whales travel in pods and the bonds in those pods are strong and long-lasting. The sick, injured and young are well protected. This allows new mothers to dive deep to feed when their young have to stay close to the surface because they have to breathe more often. Mothers keep track of their young using echolocation which is a sensory system in certain animals, such as bats and dolphins, in which usually high-pitched sounds are emitted and their echoes interpreted to determine the direction and distance of objects. They use this method to find food as well.
Sperm Whales are now protected by the Endangered Species Act and the Marine Mammal Act. The Sperm Whale’s natural predator is the Killer Whale (aka Orca) however, their largest threat is man. They’ve been hunted for their valuable blubber and spermaceti oil for centuries and their numbers are now dwindling. The best way I know to help the Sperm Whale and any other endangered species is to educate myself and others. Become more aware of what we buy, where it came from and if there is a more natural product that could be used in substitution so the demand for the products that require the whale blubber or oil decreases.