Topic: Currents and Ocean Circulation
Theme: Change

An increase in shark attacks off the Oregon coast has been reported There has also been an increase in spinal injuries reported by surfers in California. Montana is reporting an invasion of mice and snakes, which has led to an increase in snake bites. The cooler and wetter weather being experienced by New Mexico has led to an increase in the rodent population and bubonic plague. The east coast of the United States is experiencing an increase in the mosquito population and encephalitis cases.

What is going on here? Are these incidents related?


Your mission, should you decide to accept it is to solve the mystery surrounding all the unusual incidents mentioned in the News Alert. Is there a common thread here? In other words, are they connected in some way? Find out what the possible causes might be. Identify and analyze events that might had led to these unusual and seemingly unrelated events.

Here are some sources that might provide you with valuable information in your search for answers:

Some people are in a panic and believe El Niño is to blame. Check out other strange occurances in the United States during past El Niños. Check out climate patterns that ocurred simultaneously (at the same time). Display your findings to support your argument (either yes or no, El Niño is responsible).


Your tean will be assessed on:

  • how well your stance is supported by research and findings and
  • how creatively and clearly you present your information (argument).

Lesson Ideas created/adapted by Margaret Hammer (Graduate Research Assistant) and Judith Kenworthy (Technology Mentor Fellowship Associate) Texas A&M University. All comments and questions can be directed to stewart@ocean.tamu.edu