Ocean Sound and Impact of Noise
Lesson Plans

Explore this collection of lesson plans for students to learn how marine animals communicate, the intricacies of sound, and how scientists monitor ocean noise. The lesson plans feature interactive activities and animal vocalizations recordings for engaged learning.

a mother humpback whale and her calf swim side-by-side

How Increased Ocean Noise Affects Whales

Hands-on activities and a selection of videos will show students in grades 3-5 how increasing ocean noise affects whales and their ability to communicate with each other. Students will learn how whales communicate, how sound travels in waves, and how sound travels faster in water than in air. Students will also learn how the deployment and recovery of acoustic mooring devices help scientists measure ocean noise.

the top half of a killer whale rises out of the water

Sanctuary Splash: Acoustics of Cetaceans

Students will experience listening to whale vocalizations and will participate in simulations of sound perception and efficiency of sound transfer through matter. Students will also gain a basic understanding of how sounds are measured and recorded when studied in a marine environment, and how various cetacean species communicate and are identified by the vocalizations they make.

A spectrogram


In this NOAA Fisheries lesson, students will be learning about the importance of sound to marine mammals. They will explore how information can be gained from sound, familiarize themselves with the sounds made by various species of marine mammals, and discover how hard it is to communicate when there is a lot of anthropogenic (man-made) noise. They will see how humans have affected marine mammal acoustics and what they can do to make a difference.

Members of a pod of dolphins leap out of the water

Sounds in the Sanctuary Distance Learning Program
with Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary

Listen to the sounds of the sanctuary! Learn why animals use sounds underwater and how scientists study it and about some of the animals that call this incredible ecosystem home! Request someone to present virtually on this topic.