Very few schools celebrate World Oceans day, but it should be one of those dates that’s in our diaries year on year. How many times have we seen pictures of oil spilt in our waters, or plastic bottles, cups and bags washed up in an expanse of debris across a beach? Oceans give us so much and yet we really don’t appreciate all that they do for us here on planet Earth.
As well as being a fabulous source of food for people and animals everywhere, here are 5 facts to make you really sit up and take note:
1. Oceans provide us with over half of the oxygen that we and all the other land animals need. Tiny marine plants called phytoplankton release oxygen through photosynthesis whilst the rest is produced by land plants.
2. Ocean waters have the capacity to absorb vast amounts of the greenhouse-warming gas carbon dioxide (CO2). Over a quarter of the CO2 produced by human activities in the last 200 years has dissolved into the ocean. This capacity to absorb has helped contain some of man-made global warming and climate change. So, imagine where we’d be without this ability!
3. The surface layer of the ocean absorbs over half the heat reaching the Earth from the sun. Through ocean currents that flow for thousands of miles, like the Gulf Stream, the oceans distribute this heat around the world. They are extremely important in shaping the world’s climate.
4. The oceans are also a central part of the water cycle. Huge amounts of water evaporate from the ocean surface, rising into the atmosphere as water vapour. When this vapor collides with colder air, it condenses to form clouds and rain.
5. Did you know that over 90% of the world’s trade is carried by sea? We use our oceans and seas to transport everything from food and fuel to building materials, chemicals, and household items. It is by far the cheapest way to move things around the world and without it things would either cost a lot more or be unavailable to large number of countries.
So put June 8th 2019 World Oceans Day in your classroom diary today! Get involved and let’s not take our waters for granted anymore.
Today is World Migratory Bird Day!
5 facts we should probably know
- Did you know that 40% of all species of birds are migratory? In the United Kingdom about half of our bird species migrate especially those insect eaters, who can’t find enough food in the winter. Not surprisingly, in Scandinavia and Canada, almost all birds migrate south for warmer winters and conversely in the rain-forest very few birds migrate, choosing to stay where there is far more reliable weather and food supply
Examples of migratory birds in the UK are
The swallow https://www.rspb.org.uk/birds-and-wildlife/wildlife-guides/bird-a-z/swallow/
The Brent Goose https://www.rspb.org.uk/birds-and-wildlife/wildlife-guides/bird-a-z/brent-goose/
- Some of the migrant birds in the UK may come for the summer and some for the winter but other species are what’s known as partial migrants. That means that in some countries a species of bird might stay in the same place, whilst in other countries the same species might migrate to somewhere else for the winter. Starlings are partial migrants – the ones that breed in the UK, stay in the UK but those that breed in Eastern Europe migrate to the UK in winter. The same is true for chaffinches, robins, lapwings, coots and many other common birds#
- Some species are what’s known as altitudinal migrants. That means that these live in high terrain in summer but lowland in winter. Although the journey may not be long, it often involves quite a change in lifestyle. Altitudinal migrants in the UK include skylarks, meadow pipits and snow buntings. Find out more about the Snow Bunting here:
- One strange type of migrant bird is a group known as moult migrants. These migrate to a ‘safe’ territory to specifically allow them to shed their feathers. After their breeding season is over they fly to their designated place, shed their feathers including their flying feathers, then fly home when their feathers are grown back. Example of moult migrants are Shelducks who fly to the island of Heligoland to moult.
- There is one other type of migratory bird and these are known as passage migrants. These birds stop off in the UK during their long journey north or south and examples of such birds are green sandpipers and black terns. They use the UK like a service station for a few weeks.
If you think your pupils might be interested in celebrating our birds and specifically our migratory birds why not join in the activities on Migratory Bird Day 2018. You might want to start a School Garden log for children to note down t he birds they see.
Here are some websites with lots of ideas and resources to help you: