Science KS2: Protecting the Mediterranean Monk Seal

Mediterranean monk seals are one of the world’s rarest mammals, with less than 700 left and half of those live along the coastline of Greece.

To monitor their numbers local scientists swim into secluded sea caves to count this year’s pups and release a rescued pup back to the wild.

This clip is from the BBC series, Blue Planet Live. Below are a few ideas to get you started with your class.

Teacher Notes

How are seals the same and different from animals that live on land?

Use the seal as a discussion point for identifying characteristics.

Learners could work in pairs to describe the seal and chosen land animal to each other.

They can identify where there are similarities and differences, recording these through labels and short sentences or verbally.

What is the habitat of the seal?

Comparison of the habitat of their chosen land animal and the seal.

Learners can work in same pairs or small groups to discuss the habitats.

There is an opportunity to introduce the use of adjectives to encourage language development.

The learners should be encouraged to think about all that needs to be in that environment for the animal (food, correct temperature etc) and not just the physical attributes.

They could write a short poem describing the environment.

What does the seal have that allows it to survive in the sea?

Introduction to the ideas of adaptations to environment and habitats.

The learners are applying their knowledge in this task and recognising living things are adapted to their environment which aids survival.

Further examples should be given which also include plants to exemplify this concept.

What is the reproductive cycle of the seal?

Describe the seal life cycle and the impact of this failing on the numbers of seals.

The learners can evaluate the impact of a declining population and how this will affect the seal numbers.

They should be encouraged to think about how this will impact on the other animals within the seal food chain – what will happen to the numbers of fish they usually feed on?

Why are seal pups not exactly the same as their mother?

Introducing the idea of variation.

The leaners should be made aware offspring inherit characteristics from both parents.

Discussion can be focused around what characteristics are the best to pass on for the seal pups to survive their early lives.

The ‘Big’ Questions (with opportunities for extended writing and discussion)

Why is it important to protect species like the monk seal?

Tourism generates income for the local population … is this more important than the number of seals?

What do you need to do to persuade locals and tourists that it is important to protect the seal population?

Curriculum Notes

Suitable for teaching Science at KS2 in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and 2nd level in Scotland.

More from Blue Planet Live

The effects of industrial fishing on Silky Sharks
Protecting stingrays in the Bahamas
The declining food supplies for South African penguins
Trashing the deep