This is a tooth from a Sperm Whale. Sperm Whales have about 23 teeth on each side of their bottom jaw – 11 more teeth than in your whole head. The teeth are not used in devouring prey of giant squid, octopus and fish, but probably for gripping their food before swallowing.

Sperm whales were hunted in the 18th and 19th centuries, for the oil produced by the spermaceti organ in their heads. It is still a mystery as to what the whale uses this oil for. The whalers used it to make soap and in oil lamps.

The teeth were used extensively as decoration and trinkets. The art of finely engraving a picture onto a tooth or tusk is called ‘scrimshaw’.

See sperm whales in the wild by watching this short video.

A replica beached sperm whale came to Redcar in 2022. It’s aim was to encourage people to think about climate change. See pictures of the enormous whale on the beach here.

 

History

  • Comparing aspects of life in different periods

Science

  • Living things and their habitats
  • Seasonal changes and global warming

Geography

  • Simple maps

We know now that we need to protect our environment and wild animals, not hunt them. Design a poster to encourage people to look after our world. What would you ask them to do? What is a good way to get their attention? Can you include pictures as well as words?

Museum name: Kirkleatham Museum
Contact name: Liz Vine or Ellen Bissell
Phone number: 01642 479500
Email: liz.vine@redcar-cleveland.gov.uk

This is a tooth from a Sperm Whale. Sperm Whales have about 23 teeth on each side of their bottom jaw – 11 more teeth than in your whole head. The teeth are not used in devouring prey of giant squid, octopus and fish, but probably for gripping their food before swallowing.

Sperm whales were hunted in the 18th and 19th centuries, for the oil produced by the spermaceti organ in their heads. It is still a mystery as to what the whale uses this oil for. The whalers used it to make soap and in oil lamps.

The teeth were used extensively as decoration and trinkets. The art of finely engraving a picture onto a tooth or tusk is called ‘scrimshaw’.

See sperm whales in the wild by watching this short video.

A replica beached sperm whale came to Redcar in 2022. It’s aim was to encourage people to think about climate change. See pictures of the enormous whale on the beach here.

History

  • Continuity and change
  • Cause and consequence
  • Trends over time

Science

  • Living things in their habitat
  • Sound
  • Climate change and global warming

Geography

  • Simple maps
  • Natural resources

We know now that we need to protect our environment and wild animals, not hunt them, but the Victorian whalers had different views, as do some people around the world today. Ask the children to create a chart of pro’s and con’s of commercial whaling. This could be from either a historic point of view, or modern day.

Museum name: Kirkleatham Museum
Contact name: Liz Vine or Ellen Bissell
Phone number: 01642 479500
Email: liz.vine@redcar-cleveland.gov.uk

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