Jean-Michel Cousteau: Ocean Adventures

Using Ocean Adventures in the Classroom
A Word from Jean-Michel Cousteau
Educator Guide to Voyage to Kure
Educator Guide to Sharks at Risk
Educator Guide to The Gray Whale Obstacle Course
Educator Guide to America's Underwater Treasures
Educator Guide to Return to the Amazon
Educator Guide to Sea Ghosts (Belugas)
Educator Guide to Call of the Killer Whale
The Watershed Quest
Tips for Using Science Multimedia
Educator Web Links
Download Library
Outreach Partners


America's Underwater Treasures Viewing Guide

"In part threatened by annihilation and in part still pristine, the sanctuaries are as much a part of our national heritage as Old Faithful or Mt. Rushmore and must be guarded for future generations."

- Jean-Michel Cousteau

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Achieving ocean health and balance through investigation and data collection techniques that show the necessity for marine sanctuaries, the effects of fisheries and the management practices being followed in today's oceans.

In this two-part, two-hour episode, Jean-Michel Cousteau, his son, Fabien, his daughter, Celine, and his team of expert divers set out to investigate, for the first time, all 13 of these unique ecosystems. While discovering what makes them unique, the group explores how these sites are conservation challenges for the country. Traversing thousands of miles, the Ocean Adventures team goes below and above the sea off the coasts of Michigan, Texas, Florida, North Carolina, Georgia, Massachusetts, California, Washington, Hawai'i and American Samoa on a mission to introduce Americans to these fragile sanctuaries.

Detailed information about the sanctuaries

Two one-hour segments; however, viewing the video in shorter segments is recommended. (See the Teacher Sheet.)

Students will be able to

  • understand how human activities greatly contribute to the problems that the oceans face today.
  • identify the need for a sustainable management plan that balances fisheries and fishing practices with the needs of our present delicate marine-life populations.
  • learn techniques that humans have developed to collect data, tag marine life and track marine movement.
  • understand how scientists use their data to help educate the public about the future of our ocean life.


National Science Education Standards Grades 5-8 (at

Life Science - Content Standard C:
Regulation and behavior
Populations and ecosystems
Diversity and adaptations of ecosystems
Interdependence of organisms
Behavior of organisms

Science and Technology - Content Standard E:
Understanding about science and technology

Science in Personal and Social Perspectives - Content Standard F:
Risk and benefits
Natural resources
Environmental quality
Populations, resources and environments
Natural and human-induced hazards
Science and technology in society

Science As Inquiry - Content Standard A: :
Abilities necessary to do scientific inquiry
Understanding about scientific inquiry

Ocean Literacy Essential Principles and Fundamental Concepts (at

Essential Principle #1: Earth has one big ocean with many features.
a. The ocean is the dominant physical feature on our planet Earth, covering approximately 70 percent of the planet's surface. There is one ocean with many ocean basins, such as the North Pacific, South Pacific, North Atlantic, South Atlantic, Indian and Arctic.
h. Although the ocean is large, it is finite, and its resources are limited.

Essential Principle # 5: The ocean supports a great diversity of life and ecosystems.
i. Estuaries provide important and productive nursery areas for many marine and aquatic species.

Essential Principle #6: The ocean and humans are inextricably interconnected.
b. From the ocean we get foods, medicines, and mineral and energy resources. In addition, it provides jobs, supports our nation's economy, serves as a highway for transportation of goods and people, and plays a role in national security.
c. The ocean is a source of inspiration, recreation, rejuvenation and discovery. It is also an important element in the heritage of many cultures.
e. Humans affect the ocean in a variety of ways. Laws, regulations and resource management affect what is taken out of and put into the ocean. Human development and activity lead to pollution (point source, nonpoint source and noise pollution) and physical modifications (changes to beaches, shores and rivers). In addition, humans have removed most of the large vertebrates from the ocean.
g. Everyone is responsible for caring for the ocean. The ocean sustains life on Earth, and humans must live in ways that sustain the ocean. Individual and collective actions are needed in order to effectively manage ocean resources for all.

Essential Principle #7: The ocean is largely unexplored.
b. Understanding the ocean is more than a matter of curiosity. Exploration, inquiry and study are required to better understand ocean systems and processes.
c. Over the last 40 years, use of ocean resources has increased significantly; therefore, the future of sustainability of ocean resources depends on our understanding of those resources, their potential and their limitations.
d. New technologies, sensors and tools are expanding our ability to explore the ocean. Ocean scientists are relying more and more on satellites, drifters, buoys, subsea observations and unmanned submersibles.


  • Brainstorm all the ways that scientists might collect data and track where, when and how sea life migrates.
  • List all the harmful things that can make their way into our oceans. Draw a map of a town, state or country. Label and describe the many ways these harmful things can travel to the ocean.
  • Look at a map and locate all of the ocean basins of our one ocean.

Refer to the viewing questions (PDF) that go with each segment of America's Underwater Treasures.


  • Make a collage showing a pristine underwater marine sanctuary that is healthy and protected. Use vibrant colors and include at least 15 to 20 different ocean species. List five to eight reasons why your sanctuary is healthy. Use pictures from the download library and from the rest of the Ocean Adventures Web site to help.
  • Use the map in the Sanctuary Guide to find out where all the National Marine Sanctuaries are located. Read about each one and create your own symbol for the sanctuary. Then, draw a world map and use your symbols to show the location of each sanctuary on the map.

NOTE: See Teacher Sheet for segment location on PBS Home Video DVD.

Theme: Introduction to National Marine Sanctuaries

Location in America's Underwater Treasures:

PART 1 Introduction; Florida Keys NMS/Goliath Grouper; Channel Islands NMS; Channel Islands NMS/Tagging; Channel Islands NMS/Squid Fishery; Flower Garden Banks MNS/Coral; Dry Tortugas NP/Coral and Turtles; Gray's Reef NMS; Olympic Coast NMS; Hawai'ian Islands Humpback Whale NMS
PART 2 Monitor NMS/Shipwrecks; Thunder Bay NMS/Shipwrecks; Stellwagen Bank NMS/Lobster; Monterey Bay NMS; Gulf of the Farallones NMS; Monterey Bay NMS/Water Quality and Canyon; Cordell Bank NMS; Fagatele Bay NMS

Pre-Viewing Questions:

  • What does the word "sanctuary" mean to you?
  • Why do you think we need to have National Marine Sanctuaries?
  • What human activities could impact a National Marine Sanctuary?

Focus for Viewing:

  • Show the Introduction segment to the whole class and use the Introduction viewing questions.
  • Reserve the individual NMS segments for each group to use as a research tool during the Exploring National Marine Sanctuaries lesson.

Follow-up Activity:

  • Use the Exploring National Marine Sanctuaries (PDF) lesson plan to help your students understand why sanctuaries are essential to the functioning of our oceans. Deepen their knowledge of species interactions, food webs and human activities that influence our ocean populations.



Theme: Fisheries management

Location in America's Underwater Treasures: Florida Keys NMS/Goliath Grouper; Channel Islands NMS/Squid Fishery; Stellwagen Bank NMS/Lobster; Monterey Bay NMS

Pre-Viewing Questions:

  • How do you think overfishing could affect ocean fish populations?
  • What are some jobs that fishermen must do when they are at sea?

Focus for Viewing:

  • Use Questions 1 through 7 from the Florida Keys NMS/Goliath Grouper America's Underwater Treasures viewing questions.
  • Use Questions 1 through 6 for Channel Islands NMS/Squid Fishery from the America's Underwater Treasures viewing questions.
  • Use Questions 1 through 4 for Stellwagen Bank NMS/Lobster from the America's Underwater Treasures viewing questions.
  • Use Questions 1 through 5 for Monterey Bay NMS from the America's Underwater Treasures viewing questions.

Post-Viewing Discussion Questions:

  • Why do you think it is important to understand the breeding cycle of the fish that you are catching?
  • What are some ways that modern-day fishermen can help keep fish populations healthy?

Follow-up Activity:

  • Use the To Fish or Not to Fish (PDF) lesson plan to deepen your students' knowledge and understanding of all sides of the overfishing debate. Help students think critically by having them play the roles of people involved in the controversy and debate the issues.
  • Illustrate the life cycle of a popular fish. Find out how this marine organism is being fished today.



Theme: Data collection

Location in America's Underwater Treasures: Channel Islands NMS; Channel Islands NMS/Tagging; Monterey Bay NMS/Water Quality; Stellwagen Bank NMS/Lobster; Monterey Bay NMS

Previewing Questions:

  • What are some ways that scientists can collect data on all kinds of marine life?
  • How do you think that data collection can help us protect our oceans?

Focus for Viewing:

  • Use Questions 1 through 6 for Channel Islands NMS from the America's Underwater Treasures viewing questions.
  • Use Questions 1 through 5 for Channel Islands NMS/Tagging from the America's Underwater Treasures viewing questions.
  • Use Questions 1 through 4 for Stellwagen Bank NMS/Lobster from the America's Underwater Treasures viewing questions.
  • Use Question 6 for Monterey Bay NMS from the America's Underwater Treasures viewing questions.

Post-Viewing Discussion Questions:

  • What are some of the ways that the researchers collect data on fish movement?
  • What big difference do the researchers notice between protected and unprotected areas in the ocean?
  • What are some ways that we can collect data on what flows into our oceans?

Follow-up Activity:

  • Learn how to measure the abundance of marine life and practice effective sampling techniques used by today's scientists by using the Every Square Inch Counts (PDF) lesson plan.
  • Find a problem that our oceans face today and create a poster presentation that describes the many different data-collection techniques that you could use to study that problem.
  • Do a report on a specific piece of equipment that is used by ocean researchers today.

Elsie Ovrahim is an Oakland Middle School science teacher and an independent contractor for the KQED Education Network. KQED Education Network uses the power of KQED Public Media to inspire learning by providing curriculum materials, professional development, online resources and special events for educators, child-care providers, families, youth and the community at large.

These Ocean Adventures lessons and other materials are available as printer-friendly PDFs (Portable Document Format). To download and view the lesson plans as a PDF, you may first have to get Adobe Acrobat Reader, available for free on Adobe's Web site. The Reader is available for most computer platforms, and once downloaded the lessons may be viewed on-screen as well as printed out. Get Acrobat Reader software (at