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Beaked Whales

Episode:6Te Papa Collection:Natural Environment

Suggested curriculum levels:3 – 7

Curriculum connections:English: Listening, Reading, and Viewing, Science: Nature of Science Living World

Description:Whale specialist Anton Van Helden uncovers the mystery of the rare and mysterious spade-toothed whale. A scientific detective story with a twist.

Questions for students

  1. What is so special about beaked whales and why are they particularly interesting to New Zealand? Why can't scientists study live beaked whales?
  2. Why did it take so long to discover the true identity of the spade-toothed whale? By whom and how was its true identity finally determined?
  3. Having discovered this information, why does Te Papa continue to hold on to the skeletons of these beaked whales? Why is this information so important?
  4. Select another kind of whale to research. Use the 'Comparisons' response template to compare this whale with beaked whales, or with the spade-toothed whale. Alternatively, use the link below to find information about the pygmy blue whale and compare it with another whale.
  5. Trace the work done to identify the spade-toothed whale. What does this tell you about the nature of science and the ways in which scientists work?

Related templates: