• Sunset view of Glacier Bay and the surrounding Fairweather Mountains.

    Glacier Bay

    National Park & Preserve Alaska

Sea Otters Unit Outline

 
Focus Concept:
Otters Living in Glacier Bay

Sub-concepts:
Recolonization of Glacier Bay, history of survival, prey and eating habits, insulating attributes of fur, special adaptations to life in a marine environment, effect on marine environments, keystone species

Generalization:
Otters are a keystone species whose special adaptations, from physiology to eating habits, directly and indirectly effect the marine environments in which they thrive.

Guiding Question
What factors have allowed sea otters to make a comeback and thrive in Glacier Bay and how will that affect the marine ecosystem?

Critical Content
Students will know ...

  1. The physiological adaptations that allow otters to thrive in the extreme conditions of Glacier Bay
  2. The reasons for otter near extinction over time and their comeback to previous environments such as Glacier Bay in SE Alaska
  3. The type and variety of otters' prey and the effect of their predation on marine environments

Skill Objectives
Students will be able to ...

  1. Experiment to test a variety of insulation materials for heat resistance
  2. Compare and contrast otters' fur to insulation materials used by human divers
  3. Investigate the adaptations of animals living in the intertidal zones of Glacier Bay and apply the data to designing a mammal adapted to living in this environment
  4. Examine data found by researchers working in Glacier Bay to determine the diet of sea otters living in that region
  5. Compare and contrast the nutritional needs of otters to those of humans to explain the dietary differences between the two mammals
  6. Using data gathered by researchers working in Glacier Bay, determine the causes for the flux of otter populations throughout Alaska and especially in Glacier Bay
  7. Model the effects on human population of experiences similar to those of otters and other endangered animals to predict success or failure of humans in an imaginary town
  8. Examine the change in Glacier Bay's sea otter population since 1800 and its effects on the marine environment

Instructional Resources >>

Did You Know?

Hoary Marmot

Hoary Marmots can be found outside their permanent, colonial burrows from sea level to mountain tops. To avoid mosquitoes, a universal pest, marmots avoid emerging during calm days.