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


Voyage to Kure Viewing Guide

"We must restore much of Earth from our impact, but these faraway jewels of the sea still thrive with life. We need only protect them from human harm, and let them be."

- Jean-Michel Cousteau

pdf thumbnail Download the printer-friendly PDF version!
Protection and maintenance of the ocean, including mechanisms for addressing pollution/marine debris and invasive species

In this two-hour program, Jean-Michel Cousteau leads an expedition to the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands (NWHI). They are the most remote islands on the planet and serve as reminders of what many other reefs used to be, crowded with wildlife and nearly unspoiled. Their isolation, however, has not been able to protect them completely. Voyage to Kure chronicles Jean-Michel's exploration of this nearly pristine environment and his investigation to uncover the stories of its native people and its exploitation by outsiders.

Detailed description of the program

Two hours total; viewing it in shorter segments is recommended

Students will be able to

  • locate ocean basins and the NWHI on a map.
  • identify positive and negative impacts humans have on the ocean and the NWHI and propose ways to lessen the negative impacts and increase the positive impacts.


National Science Education Standards Grades 5-8 (at

Life Science - Content Standard C:
Populations and ecosystems

Earth and Space Science - Content Standard D:
Structure of the earth system

Science in Personal and Social Perspectives - Content Standard F:
Personal health
Populations, resources and environments
Natural hazards
Risks and benefits
Science and technology in society

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 #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 and put into the ocean. Human development and activity leads 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.


  • Brainstorm all the ways you as an individual affect the environment -- both positively and negatively -- as well as things you can do differently to lessen your negative effects and increase your positive effects.
  • Hypothesize as to whether your actions have any affect on the ocean.
  • Look at a map to locate all of the ocean basins of our one ocean. Find the NWHI chain on a map. How do you think you might affect this environment?
  • Trace the path of man-made debris from land to sea; investigate how your watershed is connected to the ocean.
  • Read the detailed episode description; pay particular attention to the vocabulary words and record them on the Ocean Vocabulary Sheet (PDF).

Use the Voyage to Kure viewing questions that go with the segments you watch.


  • Make a collage showing either (1) the negative impacts humans have on the marine environment and possible solutions for fixing the problems or (2) positive impacts humans have on the marine environment and examples of good practices. Use pictures from the Ocean Adventures web site to help.
  • Play Kure Waste Chase use the Kure Waste Chase Lesson Plan to enhance the learning of your students.

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

Themes: Seabirds, marine debris

Location in Voyage to Kure: Tern Island; Laysan Island/Debris

Pre-Viewing Questions:

  • Why do people move?
  • Why do animals move/migrate?
  • What problems do you think animals might encounter as they migrate?

Focus for Viewing:

  • Use Questions 1, 2 and 3 for Tern Island from Voyage to Kure Viewing Questions.
  • Use Questions 7 through 10 for Laysan Island from Voyage to Kure Viewing Questions.

Post-Viewing Discussion Questions:

  • What are some of the challenges seabirds face as they migrate?
  • How do you think seabirds might deal with these challenges?

Follow-up Activity:

  • In this activity, students separate into small groups, and each group will play a card game that will help them learn about the adaptations seabirds have made and do make and the environmental challenges they face. Seabird Survival Adaptation Card Game (PDF)



Theme: Marine debris

Location in Voyage to Kure: Laysan Island/Debris; Midway Atoll

Pre-Viewing Questions:

  • List as many plastic items as you can.
  • Name some things we use plastic for. How is plastic helpful?
  • What are some of the dangers of plastic when it is not recycled or properly disposed of?

Focus for Viewing:

  • Use Questions 1 through 4 for Laysan Island from Voyage to Kure Viewing Questions.
  • Use Questions 3 through 7 for Midway Atoll from Voyage to Kure Viewing Questions.

Post-Viewing Discussion Questions:

  • What did you see that surprised you?
  • What were some of the plastic items you saw? Do you use those types of items?
  • Which types of animals do you think are most affected by marine debris?

Follow-up Activity:



Theme: Invasive species

Location in Voyage to Kure: Laysan Island/Invasives

Previewing Questions:

  • Share a time that someone invaded your space.
  • What did the person do? How did it make you feel?
  • Discuss the concept of invasive species in the plant and animal worlds.

Focus for Viewing:

  • Use Questions 1 through 6 for Laysan Island/Invasives from Voyage to Kure Viewing Questions.

Post-Viewing Discussion Questions:

  • Review answers from the Viewing Questions handout.
  • Describe some of the problems that invasive species cause.

Follow-up Activity:

  • In this lesson, students will learn about purple loosestrife and the problems it causes as an invasive species. The Purple Problem (PDF)

Jessica Neely is the KQED Education Network Project Supervisor for Science Initiatives. Prior to this she was a secondary Life and Environmental Science Teacher. KQED Education Network uses the power of KQED Public Broadcasting to inspire learning by providing projects for youth and curriculum materials and professional development for teachers, child care providers and families.

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