Jonathan Bird's Blue World

Jonathan Bird’s Blue World: Educational Underwater Adventure brings Emmy award-winning video to classrooms to teach science with a spirit of adventure and exploration in the underwater realm. This collection includes the content from this national public television series, which has aired since 2008, paired with lesson plans and study guides aligned to National Science Standards. These resources cover academic subject areas including biology, chemistry, math, history, and physics. Take your students on a virtual dive adventure while teaching them about how science works both above and below water.

  • The Shark and the Lamprey

    Jonathan shares how a seemingly trivial observation of parasitic lampreys on the backs of basking sharks led to an important discovery about the biology of the parasitic sea lamprey. He returned the next year with a shark biologist and a lamprey biologist to attempt to recover living lampreys from the backs of Basking sharks. The accompanying lesson plan guides students through a scientific investigation that encourages students to ask questions about their observations and foster scientific inquiry.

    Grades: 6-8, 13+
  • Killer Clams

    In this video filmed in Micronesia, Jonathan goes in search of giant tridacna clams and examines the anatomy of a "killer" clam. Tridacna clams are so large that people used to think they caught people -- and it almost looks like they could. It turns out that the actual problem is too many people are eating the clams. In the accompanying lesson plan, students will be introduced to the problem of overfishing and work in teams to learn how to catch fish sustainably while learning about the food web and the economics of fishing.

    Grades: 6-8, 13+
  • The Airplane Graveyard

    During World War Two, a fierce battle between American and Japanese forces on Kwajalein atoll left a trail of debris on the deep lagoon floor.  This lagoon now has one of the largest collections of well-preserved aircraft in the world.  Jonathan explores a B-25, F4-U Corsair and Dauntless dive bomber still sitting on the bottom of the ocean, as if ready to take off. The companion study guide introduces underwater exploration of history and WWII US military aircraft.

    Grades: 6-8, 13+
  • Wilma the Whale

    What happens when a beluga whale, normally found far north in the Arctic, suddenly shows up in a bay in Nova Scotia? This segment shows how one incredible friendly whale transformed a town, and captured the hearts of children and adults alike. The companion study guide reviews beluga biology and the implications of social interaction between humans and wild animals.

    Grades: 6-8, 13+
  • The Mysterious Hammerhead

    Of all the animals in the oceans, the hammerhead shark may be one of the strangest looking.  The exact purpose of the wide, flat head is a mystery, but several theories abound.  In this video, Jonathan travels to the shark-infested waters of the Galapagos in Ecuador and to a research station in Hawaii to learn about the unusual habits of these sinister-looking sharks.  He swims in schools of hundreds of hammerheads, and yet the sharks ignore him.  What are the sharks up doing? The companion study guide explores the reasons for the shark’s head shape and introduces cleaning stations and symbiotic relationships.

    Grades: 6-8, 13+
  • Exploring the Prinz Eugen

    Once the pride of the German Navy, this 700-foot long heavy cruiser was used by the United States as a test target for two atom bombs at Bikini atoll. Today, at the bottom of the ocean, the radiation levels of the Prinz Eugen are low enough for safe exploration. Jonathan explores this mysterious shipwreck. In the associated lesson plan, students research shipwrecks to create the story of a shipwreck and the accompanying artifacts. Acting as marine archaeologists, students will record information about each item as they excavate and analyze it. Finally, they will present their findings to the other teams of marine archaeologists.

    Grades: 5-8
  • Swimming with Sea Cows

    When manatees were first seen by Columbus, he thought they were mermaids…but he had been at sea for a long time! Today these gentle marine mammals are threatened by loss of habitat and collisions with boats. This video segment explores the endangered manatees of Florida and their struggle to survive, as well as some of the people who are working to save them. Students will examine and dis­cuss a 20-year period of synoptic survey data. Please see the accompanying lesson plan for educational objectives, discussion points and classroom activities.

    Grades: PreK-12
  • The Bandana Game

    In the open ocean around the Bahamas, pods of wild Spotted Dolphins frolic in the sunshine.  Sometimes, they get bored and approach boats.  In this video, Jonathan joins dolphin expert Wayne Scott Smith to learn how dolphins interact with each other.  Jonathan gets a lesson on how to play the Bandanna Game, a game of “keep away” that the dolphins invented and like to play with Scott. The companion study guide reviews dolphin biology and echolocation.

    Grades: 6-8, 13+
  • A Sharkwreck Mystery!

    Thirty miles off the coast of North Carolina there is a shipwreck on the bottom, 130 feet down.  Swarming around the wreck are dozens of Sand Tiger sharks.  They look menacing, but they seem to be very docile.  What are they all doing there, in one spot? Using a variety of filming techniques, Jonathan attempts to discover the secrets of the sand tiger shark gatherings at the wrecks, and does a night dive with these sharks. The companion study guide teaches how a hypothesis can be tested by experimentation.

    Grades: 6-8, 13+
  • The Shark with the Tall Tail

    The thresher shark is very rare, almost never seen by divers -- until now.  Using advanced diving technology, Jonathan visits a remote reef in the Philippines where thresher sharks show up every morning to be cleaned by small fish. The companion study guide explains the concepts of cleaner fish, cleaning stations, and sea mounts.

    Grades: 6-8, 13+
  • Swimming With Jaws

    The Great White shark is probably the world’s most feared animal and easily the most fearsome of the sharks. In this video, Jonathan travels to Mexico to meet a Great White up close and personal. Nothing can prepare him for the sheer size and strength of a fully grown Great White shark! He learns how white sharks are being studied and how they react to both people and sea lions. The companion study guide provides a general overview of the Great White shark, what it eats, and the related research.

    Grades: 6-8, 13+
  • The Shark and the Whale

    In the warm and blue waters off of Hawaii, oceanic white tip sharks often follow behind pods of pilot whales.  For the longest time, biologists have had no idea why.  Are they eating the whales?  Are they stealing food from the whales?  In an expedition to follow the sharks and observe them, Jonathan finally figured out what is going on, and you won't believe the disgusting truth! The study guide explores pelagic animals and shows social behavior among marine mammals.

    Grades: 6-8, 13+
  • Giants of the Depths

    Sperm whales are very hard to find and even harder to film. Jonathan repeatedly attempts to get close to the elusive whales, until finally he succeeds and has an incredible experience eye-to-eye with a giant who investigates him with powerful sonar clicks. This educational video features sperm whales and has an accompanying lesson plan to teach about Sound in the Sea.

    Grades: 5-8
  • Ginnie Springs Cavern Exploration

    In a quiet forest in central Florida, a mysterious pond filled with warm clear water hides a secret at the bottom. Jonathan explores the pond to find a spring, which leads into a cave. As Jonathan travels underground, he meets unexpected marine life in the dark depths and learns how water travels through an aquifer from the underground world to the surface. The study guide explains how water carves a path through solid rock.

    Grades: 5-8
  • Blue Shark Adventure

    In this video, Jonathan learns about how shark tagging has shed light on the biology of and behavior of Blue sharks. Tagging them off the coast of Rhode Island has shown that these incredible swimmers actually migrate completely across the Atlantic ocean. Jonathan tries his hand at tagging a shark and then swims with Blue sharks. We also learn that Blue sharks are not nearly as vicious as they have been reputed to be, and the divers are actually able to pet the sharks! The study guide introduces viewers to pelagic animals and how tagging them can help learn about their migration.

    Grades: 6-8, 13+
  • Whale Sharks

    Reaching fifty feet long, the whale shark grows larger than a school bus, but are completely harmless since they eat only plankton and small fish.  The local economy of Holbox Island is supported by the ecotourism generated as visitors come to this tiny island to swim with the whale sharks. The accompanying lesson discusses types of plankton, their importance in ocean ecosystems, and methods of studying plankton.

    Grades: 6-8, 13+
  • The Mantas of Yap

    In this video, Jonathan travels to Yap to dive with giant Manta Rays. Manta Rays come to this area to visit a "cleaning station" where parasites are removed by cleaner fish. The tidal currents keep the Mantas from sinking to the bottom, as they have no swim bladder to control their buoyancy. The accompanying lesson plan looks at what causes ocean tides, tidal cycles, and the effects of the gravitational forces of the sun and moon on Earth.

    Grades: 6-8, 13+
  • Tropical Fish Rescue

    Millions of fish eggs from the Caribbean get stuck in the gulf stream every year and drift thousands of miles north where they hatch.  Unfortunately, when winter comes, the baby fish will die. In this video, Jonathan joins the New England Aquarium Dive Club on a tropical fish rescue in Rhode Island where they catch some of these fish in the fall before water temperatures plummet.  The accompanying lesson discusses the cause of currents and how they impact weather and life in the oceans

    Grades: 6-8, 13+
  • Mangroves

    Mangrove plants are incredibly important for shoreline protection and fish habitats.  In this video, Jonathan investigates life in mangroves by visiting both Caribbean and Pacific mangroves and learns the importance of mangroves, as well as the special mechanisms these plants have evolved to survive in salty water. This lab activity is a demonstration of osmosis in plant cells and looks at how saltwater can affect the living material of a "freshwater plant" by comparing potato slices placed in both fresh and saltwater.

    Grades: 6-8, 13+
  • The Mexican Underground: Cenotes

    In some places of Mexico's Yucatan peninsula, the forest floor has fallen in, leaving holes in the ground called cenotes. Cenotes were considered openings to the underworld by the ancient Mayans. In this video, Jonathan teams up with an expert cave diver to explore these spooky underground rivers and finds some amazing geologic formations. The accompanying lesson looks at the density and salinity of water that interact to form a halocline, and offers an activity to float an object on a halocline.

    Grades: 5-8