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Whale of a Time

Sycamore Class have been having a whale of a time this week with a visitor from the Whale and Dolphin Conservation charity. The children (and teachers) were spellbound for over an hour as we were given a whole range of fascinating facts about cetaceans. We learnt to tell the difference between cetaceans and fish- if we were to see a dorsal fin poking out of the water behind us we would know whether it was there to play or if we needed to escape. We looked at the skeletal structure of whales and dolphins and were able to hold a vertebrae of a bottlenose dolphin- it was incredibly light! We learnt all about the largest animal ever to have lived on our planet- the blue whale- whose heart is the size of a small car, with arteries that we could slide through like those at a water park. Surprisingly, this humungous creature- 33m long- survives by only eating krill. We saw these tiny, weird, shrimp-like creatures and marvelled as to how such a giant could survive by just eating this. Sycamore Class were shown a piece of baleen and learnt how whales without teeth use this sheet-like substance as a filter- keeping the fish in and pushing the water out with their tongues.

Linking to our topic of Climate Change we also learnt how whale and dolphin behaviour is being affected by the changing water temperatures and how pollution-especially plastic pollution- is causing a problem for them. Something that we are keen to follow up with our work in class.

We cannot thank the Whale and Dolphin Conservation enough. It’s hard to believe that such an important charity is based just up the road in Chippenham. We had a truly enlightening afternoon and feel empowered to add our voices to those campaigning for these wonderful creatures.

Sycamore Class would also like to set you a quiz question- What is the largest species of dolphin? If you think you know- or would like to know- ask a member of Sycamore Class for the answer.