Coastal Ecology—Biodiversity

Summary: “In this lesson, students will explore the biodiversity of two National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) national marine sanctuaries. Following a discussion of the term “biodiversity” and why biodiversity is important, students will take virtual trips (via video footage) to Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary, located off the California coast, and the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary. They will then work in groups to further explore one of the two ocean treasures, noting the types of wildlife the sanctuary supports, the importance of the ecosystem, and the threats it faces. Groups will also consider how each sanctuary’s location might affect its health and long-term outlook. To conclude, the class will come back together to share their findings, and compare and contrast the two national marine sanctuaries.”

Concepts to teach: Habitats, Ecology, Biodiversity, Conservation

Goals: Students will be able to define biodiversity and virtually explore national marine sanctuaries while assessing future health of the sanctuaries.

6.2L.2; 7.2E.3

Specific Objectives:

  1. Define biodiversity and ecosystem.
  2. Understand the importance of biodiversity to an ecosystem.
  3. Explore the threats to the Cordell Bank and Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale national marine sanctuaries.
  4. Consider the relationship between the location of each sanctuary and the long-term outlook for its health.

Activity Links and Resources:


  • Have students write reports that provide information about one of the two sanctuaries focusing specifically on the challenges faced by the sanctuary and the outlook for the future health of the ecosystem. Within the lesson plan, there is a suggested rubric to use to grade these reports.