Marine Protected Areas
Marine Protected Areas
Students explore Marine Protected Areas on an interactive map, compare and contrast marine and terrestrial protected areas, and discuss the importance of Marine Protected Areas.
9 - 12+
Ecology, Oceanography, Physical Geography, Geography, Earth Science, Human Geography
This resource is also available in Spanish.
The term Marine Protected Area is widely used around the world, but its meaning in one country may be different from its meaning in another. In the United States, the definition of a Marine Protected Area (MPA) is, by presidential executive order, "any area of the marine environment that has been reserved by federal, state, territorial, tribal or local laws or regulations to provide lasting protection to part or all of the natural or cultural resources therein." Examples of MPAs include national marine sanctuaries, fishery management zones, national parks, marine reserves, and wildlife refuges.
Review students' written responses to see how well they articulated their ideas. Be sure to identify and address any questions they still have.
Extending the Learning
Have students identify a marine or terrestrial area in their community that is in need of protection, and then write a brief article about the area. Ask students to include the environmental issues the area faces, the natural and cultural resources that are in need of protection, and any stories of local environmental stewardship projects or other human actions that have helped or are currently helping the area.
Have students watch Enric Sala's TED talk: Glimpses of a Pristine Ocean at home before beginning this activity. The talk presents a case study of the Line Islands that will help students engage in this activity.
In Step 2, if time is limited, have each group only present one of its assigned MPAs.
What You’ll Need
Materials You Provide
- Internet Access: Required
- Tech Setup: 1 computer per small group, Projector, Speakers
- Large-group instruction
- Small-group instruction
Before starting this activity:
- View Google Earth and the Marine Protected Areas layer and familiarize yourself with how to navigate to different MPAs. If needed, complete one or more of the Google Earth tutorials.
- Print, laminate, and assemble the Water Planet Mega Map.
- Write out the reflection questions for Step 4, but conceal them from students until that part of the activity.
The audio, illustrations, photos, and videos are credited beneath the media asset, except for promotional images, which generally link to another page that contains the media credit. The Rights Holder for media is the person or group credited.
National Geographic Program
National Geographic Explorer
Special thanks to the educators who participated in National Geographic's 2010-2011 National Teacher Leadership Academy (NTLA), for testing activities in their classrooms and informing the content for all of the Ocean: Marine Ecology, Human Impacts, and Conservation resources.
June 1, 2023
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