BPDS Grade 2/3 Investigate “Life Under Water” as UNESCO Sustainable Development Goal

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Submitted by Connie Radbourne

Life Under Water was the UNESCO Sustainable Development Goal that the Bruce Peninsula District School’s Grade 2/3 class chose to investigate and share with fellow panthers during the month of October. The Grade 2/3 class endeavored to “understand threats to ocean systems such as pollution and overfishing and recognize and explain the relative fragility of many ocean ecosystems.” The Salish Orca and the Chinook Salmon and their plight to survive became the narrower focus.

BPDS students and staff, as a UNESCO school, strive to educate its students and the surrounding community to the idea of “strengthening the foundations of lasting peace and equitable and sustainable development in the world”.

Off the coast of British Columbia is a body of water named the Salish Sea, home to Canada’s most endangered marine mammal the Salish Orca and its prime food source, Chinook salmon. There are only 74 Salish Orcas remaining and ”they haven’t had any offspring that has survived since 2015.”

Chinook Salmon numbers are on the decline and salmon that remain have much smaller weights than in the past, the decline in Chinook populations are thought to be caused by over-fishing and habitat destruction (e.g. dams). Salish Orcas facing starvation also have to combat increased ocean traffic, which interferes with the whale’s foraging ability through echolocation. A third strike against the Salish Orca is the accumulation of chemicals and pollution in the whales which further reduces their reproductivity.

In October the Grade 2/3’s challenged the school and community with 3 goals that relate to the UNESCO Goal – Life Under Water.

The goals were:

1. Make yourself aware of the top ten species that are in danger of going extinct in the Earth’s oceans.

2. Write a letter or an email to the Minister of Environment voicing your concern with over- fishing and fish farming in our oceans.

3. Choose NOT to use plastic straws. Plastics and plastic straws are a huge problem in polluting the Earth’s oceans.

Bibliography: http://unesdoc.uNESCO.org/images/0024/002474/247444e.pdf, https://en.uNESCO.org/about-us/introducing-unesco, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Southern_resident_killer_whales, https://vancouversun.com/news/local-news/are-we-watching-a-real-time-extinction-of-southern-resident-killer-whales