We humans need to dress like this to keep warm in cold weather.
How do marine mammals keep warm? Imagine swimming in the icy waters of the Arctic!
What is their jacket-less secret?
Blubber is the thick layer under the skin of marine mammals like seals, sea otters, whales and walruses. It covers the entire body except for fins, flippers or flukes.
Blubber stores energy, insulates and increases buoyancy (floatiness!)
Did you know? Blubber is different than most types of fat. It’s much thicker and has lots more blood vessels than the fat in land animals, including humans. Why not do a little research project and learn more about this unique insulator?
Want to make some blubber and see how it can keep you warm? Try this fun experiment!
Supplies for a blubber glove
- Two large ziplock bags of the same size (big enough to fit your hand inside)
- 1-2 cups shortening (vegetable or similar)
- Duct tape
- Ice (crushed/cubes, or snow)
- An animal costume (kidding, but that coud be fun)
Fill a ziplock bag with shortening, maybe five huge spoonfuls
We used a large ziplock bag and ended up using an entire block of shortening
With your hand inside the other (clean) ziplock bag, slide it into the first ziplock bag that is filled with shortening
Keeping your hand inside the second ziplock bag, squash the shortening around so it spreads out evenly
You want a layer where you don’t see any big see-through spots, so add more shortening as needed
To keep the shortening from squishing out: Fold the top of the inside ziplock bag over the outside ziplock bag (sort of roll it down all the way around)
It will make a pocket that you can slide your hand into without getting shortening all over the place
Tape it down all the way around with strong tape (like duct tape)
It will look similar to this
Make your icy arctic water
Partially fill up a large bucket with cold water. Now add lots of ice
OR: just use a snowbank as we did 🙂
Slide your hand into the bag, and put your other hand into your icy arctic water bucket (not too far or the water will spill in the top!)
What do you notice?
Is your blubber hand even getting a little warm inside the ziplock bag? That’s blubber acting as a heat insulator!
For an adventurous experiment: put your non-blubber glove hand into the water too! See how long you last before you take it out!
See how much blubber protects you against the cold??
Isn’t blubber cool… or wait, warm!!
The Big Sis