Curriculum & Activities

Sanctuary Web Quest Digital Scavenger Hunt Activity

screenshot of the form

In this activity, students can click on the links provided in the PDF to learn about what makes Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary so unique. Watch videos, look at images and read about this unique offshore national marine sanctuary and either fill in digitally or print and fill in the answers.

Grades 4-8

Download PDF


winged ambassadors logo

Winged Ambassadors:
Ocean Literacy through the Eyes of Albatross

Albatrosses, charismatic and threatened seabirds, are ambassadors for a clean ocean. They traverse vast oceanic regions searching for floating food. Along their journeys, they ingest plastic trash and are hooked in fisheries. These five lessons use inquiry-based science instruction, aligned to standards for grades 6 – 8 with extensions for grades 9 – 12.

Lesson 1 – Introduction to Seabirds

Lesson 2 – Tracking Albatross Migrations

Lesson 3 – Protecting Ocean Hotspots

Lesson 4 – Bolus Analysis

Lesson 5 – Campus Debris Survey

Students will:

  • Use real data from current research tracking albatross migrations and ocean plastic pollution
  • Be inspired by paintings and photographs from scientist and artist Sophie Webb
  • Investigate albatross diets using detailed images of dissected boluses by National Geographic photographer David Liittschwager
Each lesson includes:
  • Lesson plan with learning objectives and procedures, an outline of necessary materials and preparation, time estimates, suggested discussion questions and possible answers, ideas for differentiating activities for diverse learners, and expanded resources, videos and links
  • Student Worksheets and Handouts for photocopying and/or projecting
  • Presentations with photos, art, wildlife research data, and teacher presentation notes to support the lesson

Download the activity package for free at

This activity package was produced by Oikonos - Ecosystem Knowledge and Meghan Marerro in collaboration with Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary and the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument with funding from NOAA's Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, Pacific Islands region, and West Coast region. 

Dungeness Crab Case Study: Communication Toolkit

dungenss crab

Dungeness crab is a valuable species throughout the national marine sanctuaries of the West Coast from Washington state to throughout California. This communication toolkit is designed for educators and communicators to use to teach others about the impact of ocean acidification on Dungeness crab.

The toolkit includes: fact sheet; infographic; PowerPoint slideshow with script; reference list; resource list; public domain video B-roll; and public domain images.

Access the case study

How Increased Ocean Noise Affects Whales

diagram showing ocean noise sources

Ocean noise is on the rise, and NOAA and National Marine Sanctuaries are working to measure it. This activity introduces how ocean noise affects whales, how sound travels in waves, and how increasing noise is interrupting whale communication. Includes links to videos, instructional sequence, introduction to sanctuary monitoring effort and reflection activities. For Grades 3-5, NGSS, and ocean literacy aligned.

Activity to download

Deep Coral Communities Curriculum

photo montage of sea life

Deep Coral Communities Sentinels of a Changing Ocean CurriculumTake your students on an incredible journey hundreds of feet beneath the surface of the ocean without ever leaving the classroom! Using research footage from remotely operated vehicles, your students will be able to utilize real scientific methods to explore the unique deep-sea coral communities found in our West Coast national marine sanctuaries (including Cordell Bank NMS). These materials are aligned with the Next Generation Scinece Standards, Common Core Education Standards and Ocean and Climate Literacy standards. Available free to download from the National Marine Sanctuaries Education web page. 

Oceans for Life Lesson Plans

The Oceans for Life lesson plans (under Grades 5-8 tab) developed in partnership with National Geographic Society, highlight cutting edge research, environmental issues facing the ocean today and our National Marine Sanctuaries. Appropriate for grades 6-8. Cordell Bank is featured in the Biodiversity lesson, which compares Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale Sanctuary with Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary.

Cordell Bank: Blue Water Oasis Film Viewing Guide and Activity

This viewing guide/activity (444k pdf) offers a few ways to watch the 15 minute film in your classroom and follow up with further discussion (Grades 6-12). To watch the video online go to the Video Gallery. Produced prior to the expansion of Cordell Bank and Gulf of the (now "Greater") Farallones national marine sanctuaries in 2015.
To request a free DVD, educators may contact for a copy.
(please allow at least 7 days for delivery.) 

Investigating a habitat by submersible

Grades 7-12 Students will view submersible footage and do a habitat characterization exercise for two different habitats in Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary (soft bottom vs. rocky habitat). Students analyze data by creating a simple graph of their results.

Activity Instructions


Identification Guide


Training Slide Show

subslideshow.ppt (powerpoint version)

subslideshow.pdf (pdf version)

Slide show script


Videos to use with Activity

Benthic Activity (Practice Video)

Benthic Activity Rocky (Rocky Reef Video)

Benthic Activity Soft Bottom (Soft Bottom Video) 

Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary Teacher at Sea Curriculum Resources

After an immersive, hands on week at sea with the Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary and Point Blue (formerly PRBO) Conservation Science teams, teachers create new activities to bring their experience into the classroom. Check out their activities below.

Beth Lancaster - Teacher at Sea 2008

High School Biology Teacher, CT

With the use of videos and looking at real data, Students will investigate how oceanographic processes influence the ecology of a California marine ecosystem.

Teaching Materials:

Download the Activity (708kb pdf)

Pre/Post text (96kb pdf)

Supporting Student Data Pages:

Bathmetry Student Data Sheet (92kb pdf)

Bird and Mammal Student Data Sheet (91kb pdf)

Zooplankton Student Data Sheet (107kb pdf)

Physical Oceanography Student Data Sheet (545kb pdf)

Videos to go with this activity are in the Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary Video Library 

Seafloor Habitat Comparison Activity "Every Square Inch Counts"

Every Square Inch Counts is an activity that compares the rocky intertidal habitats of Gulf of the (now "Greater") Farallones National Marine Sanctuary to the subtidal benthic habitat in Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary. Download the Activity and supporting materials below:

Activity outline: Every Square Inch Counts (28KB PDF)

Produced prior to the name change from "Gulf of the" to "Greater" Farallones National Marine Sanctuary.

Intertidal ID Cards (480KB PDF)

Rocky Intertidal Data Sheet and Answers (36KB PDF)

Intertidal Photo Quadrat 1 (216KB JPG)

Intertidal Photo Quadrat 2 (380KB JPG)

Intertidal Photo Quadrat 3 (368KB JPG)

Intertidal Photo Quadrat 4 (316KB JPG)

Intertidal Photo Quadrat 5 (368KB JPG)

Intertidal Photo Quadrat 6 (332KB JPG)

Subtidal ID Cards (3.5MB PDF)

Subtidal photo data sheet/answer guide (68KB PDF)

Subtidal photo A 8.5x14in (1.5MB PDF)

Subtidal photo B 8.5x14in (1.1MB PDF)

Subtidal photo C 8.5x14in (1.1MB PDF)

Subtidal photo D 8.5x14in (676KB PDF)

Introductory Slideshow in PDF format (10.6 MB PDF)

Introductory Slide Show Script (676KB PDF)

Produced prior to the name change from "Gulf of the" to "Greater" Farallones National Marine Sanctuary.

To get the powerpoint version of the introductory presentation, contact