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Marine Communities - Teacher's Guide

   Episode Overview
CoralIn the opening segment Patrice looks at how life in the ocean is organized in layers. Next Patrice and Dave examine life in a tide pool. Then we take an up-close  look at estuaries. Jessica and Daniel are going to spend the day in an estuary at the Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve in Maine monitoring soft shell clams and green crab experiments with Caitlin Mullen and Lindsay Whitlow.
   Program Objectives
Students will:
1. Understand that environments support a diversity of living organisms that all share limited resources.

2. Describe the water cycle.

3. State the role water plays in sustaining life.

4. Describe how ocean life varies depending of sunlight and depth of the water.

5. Describe adaptations exhibited by marine life.
Estuary Disphotic Zone
Aquatic Aphotic Zone
Euphotic Zone Intertidal Zone
   Previewing Activity

Give the students one minute to list all the marine organisms they can. After the students have made their lists, have them identify where those organisms live.

   Post-Viewing Activities

1. Have students select a marine environment to research. After they have researched their environment, have them create a poster or diorama of their environment.

2. Have students create four imaginary organisms that could survive in the Aphotic, Euphotic, Disphotic and intertidal zones. Have them explain, either in writing or in an oral presentation, the adaptations that would help their organisms survive in each of those environments.

   Hands-On: Soaking It Up

In this episode of NatureWorks, students learned how estuaries absorb floodwaters and filter out pollution. In this activity they will create a simulated estuary with sponges.

   Materials Needed

clear plastic cups
food coloring


Pass out two cups and a sponge to each student or group of students. Fill one cup with water, add food coloring and place a mark on the cup to indicate the water level. Place a sponge over the second cup and slowly pour the water from the first cup into the second cup.

Have the students record what happens. Does the water come up to the same level in the second cup?  Does the sponge absorb some of the food coloring?

For fun, you can add other "pollutants" to the water like dirt, glitter, vegetable oil an so forth.

   Hands-On:Making Waves

In this episode of NatureWorks, students learned about marine environment. In this activity, students will make waves and observe wave action.

   Materials Needed

16 oz. clear soda bottles
blue food coloring
vegetable oil


Have the students fill a soda bottle halfway with water. Then have them add about four drops of blue food coloring. Using a funnel, have your students fill the bottle the rest of the way with vegetable oil and then tightly cap the bottle. Finally have the students tip and tilt the bottles to make "waves." 

In the ocean, waves are caused by wind or in some cases underground earthquakes or volcanoes.

For fun, students can add glitter to their wave bottles and glue on the caps for a permanent wave bottle.

   Additional Resources

Web Sites

Voyage to the Deep
This site from the University of Delaware follows a deep sea diving expedition.

Life Without Light
Descend to the ocean depths and learn about organisms that live in the cold-seep habitats in the Gulf of Mexico.

In Search of Giant Squid
This online exhibit explores and interprets the mystery, beauty and complexity of giant squids - - the world's largest invertebrates, and is based upon material presented in the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History's exhibit "In Search of Giant Squids." 

Marine Specimens Database
This database contains images of 205 species currently available through Woods Hole Marine Resources Department catalog. Other resources such as GenBank and taxonomic information have been included.

NOAA Photo Collection
Collection of 16,000 photos of ocean organisms and weather from NOAA.

Ocean Planet
Online ocean exhibit from the Smithsonian Institute.

Virtual Tidepool
Take an interactive tour of a tidepool.

This comprehensive site from Wheelock College focuses on whales and marine research and contains special sections for teachers, students and the general public. Available in English and Spanish.


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