Ibis the Whale
©1992 Steve Schuch / Night Heron Music (ASCAP)

This song is based on a real whale rescue recounted in a book by John Himmelman, Ibis: A True Whale Story. Driftnets are nearly invisible nets that stretch for miles underwater. Sometimes they break loose from a fishing boat. They may continue to drift for years, unseen but deadly. Many fish, sea turtles, sharks, and dolphins become entangled in these nets and die. Even great whales.

I first learned about Ibis from Alex Trovillion, age six. Someday he hopes to live in a world without driftnets, a world where all whales are safe. Thanks to Alex for telling me about Ibis, and to everyone who works to rescue and understand whales.

Song tracks: Trees of Life | Turn the World Around | The Forest is a Wonderful Place | If I Had Wings | Sap Time | Barges | Silent Huntress | Ibis the Whale | Two Different Worlds | The Animal Song | The Garden Round | Where Will We Go | The Little Prince | Zeno-ba-ba-da | Giving Tree | Activity Guide Home




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A young friend once told me about a great whale
Whose friends called her Ibis, now this is her tale
It all really happened just a few years ago
The starfish were there so they know...

Ibis the whale, Ibis the whale
Will you rise through the water and breathe in the air
Ibis the whale, Ibis the whale
The starfish and I are your friends

One day Ibis saw some fish acting strange
All crowded together and twisted in pain
She couldn’t see the net till it caught her the same
Would she ever reach the surface again... Chorus

She broke through the net though some clung to her fins
It tore at her mouth, cut deep into her skin
Other whales tried to help her but what could they do
The net was too tough to chew through... Chorus

Then people in boats tried to cut the lines free
But Ibis was scared, as she struggled to breathe
Till the hands in the water began to remind her
Of the arms of the starfish... she held still a long time...
And finally... they undid the lines

They cried when they saw she was fine
And said “No more drift nets... next time!”

Now Ibis the whale, Ibis the whale
Swims free in the water and breathes in the air
Ibis the whale, yes Ibis the whale
The starfish and I are your friends
The starfish and I... are your friends

Suggested Activity

Like “Barges” this song fits in with a unit on oceans and whales. It also ties in nicely with Steve Schuch’s workshop and book, A Symphony of Whales, and his “Whale Trilogy” violin piece.

Discussion Topics

  • Sonar and Echolocation: How do these work? How do people and animals depend on these? Why are scientists concerned about the effects powerful new kinds of sonar may have on whales and other marine life?

  • What are the differences between traditional subsistence hunting and modern factory fishing fleets? How has new technology, such as sonar, invisible drift nets, and large scale bottom trawling, impacted marine life? How has technology changed us?

  • How is the idea of balance, of taking only “enough,” still important in our modern world?

  • What are some current challenges facing a local fishery in your area (salt or fresh water)?

Whale & Ocean Activities

  • Working in “pods,” have groups of students present a brief report on different species of whales. Include where they’re found, what they eat, and a haiku or whale drawing.

  • Create class murals or art projects with whales and ocean themes.

  • Whale Yarns: using yarn or long lengths of clothesline, make life sized outlines of different kinds of whales, either in school gym or outdoors.

  • Whale Watch: go out for a first hand encounter with whales and the sea.

  • Whales Songs: listen to recordings of whales songs, and human songs that include whales.

  • Coastal Day: visit the coast, study tide pools and plankton, do a beach cleanup. If you don’t live near the ocean, is there another lake or river where you could “give something back” by cleaning up a part of the shoreline?

  • Shanty Sing: learn some traditional sea shanties to sing for other classes (or for Steve when he visits).

Additional Activities
(included as part of Steve Schuch’s workshop on whales)

  • “Whale Pod” simulation of underwater communication.

  • “Bone Conduction” demonstration with “whale volunteers” and a tuning fork... how sound travels vast distances underwater and is heard not only through whales’ ears, but also via bone conduction.

For more on these activities, contact Steve about his workshop, A Symphony of Whales.


Night Heron Music • 72 Meeting Hill Road, Hillsborough, NH 03244 • USA
• ph (603) 464-4321 •
e-mail info@nightheron.com

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