Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Geography/History # 20


I figured we would pull out our scrapbook and our postcards and look at another State this week. On Saturday however, we got news that a gray whale was stuck in the Snohomish river. I asked Selena, “How did the whale get in the river?” Her hypothesis was that the whale jumped from the Ocean to the river. Good hypothesis but this triggered that maybe it is time we do a little geography lessons on where the rivers actually come from and where they go, and at the same time answer this perplexing question that seemed to have Selena stumped.

We had to pull out our map and take a look at a few different rivers here in the State of Washington. Our maps didn’t show quite what I was looking for so I came to the trusty Internet and found the maps below. Selena and I examined where the rivers start, she discovered that these two rivers the Columbia and the Snohomish rivers started in or near mountain ranges. We discussed how the rivers get their water from the Spring runoff or when the snow melts in the mountains. She also made the observation that other rivers and streams run into these rivers. We also talked about how our rains feed the rivers.



The Columbia River Starts in Canada in the Rocky Mountains





The Snohomish River Starts near the base of the Cascade Mountains and is fed by the run off from The North Cascades and what we call Snoqualmie Pass.




We then talked about what direction the river flows, and followed both rivers to it’s mouth. Selena posed a question, “Why is it called the mouth of the river when the water is going out?” I quickly explained that this is also where ships and boats enter the river from the Ocean. The light bulb went on and she exclaimed, “The Whale swam into the river!”

The clips below are some clips we watched from our local news station. The first one is the Gray Whale that got stuck in the Snohomish River. Now just so you know the whale was ill, and probably will not make it. This is a common event this time of year as these whales find limited food sources during their migration back to our area. We talked a bit about why the whale was sick, and might not make it, so Selena watched the clip below again and told the whale, “Get back in the Ocean and find food so you can live!”

It is not uncommon for the Gray Whale to make it’s way clear into the South Sound and be seen as far South and inland as Olympia. That is where Papa and I got to see our first whale was while in a boat in the South Sound.


The clip below is a pod of Orcas, that are commonly found out in our Ocean waters. These were spotted this Spring. Our Pod’s are labeled, and I am unsure as to what Pod this is. None the less Selena enjoyed watching it and so we thought we would share.


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  1. Great impromptu lesson on rivers! Very sad about the whale though. I love that second video. Very cool!

  2. Batman corrected me, the second video is not of whales, it's about orcas. Orcas attack boats, but they won't attack our boat.
    Cool new lesson.

  3. Its sweet to see how concerned she was for the whale.

  4. Great lesson. For some reason the videos don't show up in my browser, but it's neat that Selena could actually watch the whale and understand how he got to the river.