Coral Reefs - National Aquarium

Coral Reefs - National Aquarium

Coral Reefs Pre- and Post-Visit Activities Grades 5-8 Education Department 501 East Pratt Street Baltimore, MD 21202 Reproduction for educational pur...

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Coral Reefs Pre- and Post-Visit Activities Grades 5-8

Education Department 501 East Pratt Street Baltimore, MD 21202 Reproduction for educational purposes only. Printed on recycled paper, preserving aquatic habitats. 12/13

The National Aquarium is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to inspire conservation of the world’s aquatic treasures.

501 East Pratt Street • Baltimore, MD 21202 aqua.org

This booklet was prepared by the Education Department at the National Aquarium. Illustration: Cindy Belcher The educational goals of the National Aquarium are supported by funding from the Jacob and Hilda Blaustein Aquatic Education Endowment Fund. The booklet may be reproduced by any teacher, school or school district for educational purposes. © 2010

Coral Reefs A 30-minute auditorium and gallery program for Grades 5-8 at the National Aquarium

PROGRAM DESCRIPTION Students experience an auditorium presentation on the biology of coral reefs and their importance as an ecosystem. Students learn how their day-to-day actions affect the health and inhabitants of coral reefs. Following the program, students travel to the Atlantic Coral Reef gallery to complete a worksheet combining animal behavior, conservation, adaptations and geography of coral reefs.

PLANNING FOR THE PROGRAM The activities included in this booklet are a supplement to the auditorium program at the National Aquarium. The Coral Reefs program can be incorporated into units about reef biology, ecosystems, animal behavior, adaptations, and conservation practices. Including your trip to the National Aquarium, this lesson should be covered in three days.

DAY 1: PRE-VISIT ACTIVITIES The day before your visit to the National Aquarium, read the Teacher Background section in this booklet and share the information with your students. On the day of your visit, your group will complete Activity 1 – Atlantic Coral Reef.

DAY 2: AQUARIUM VISIT Attend the interactive presentation of Coral Reefs in the 4-D Immersion Theater at the National Aquarium. Visit the Atlantic Coral Reef gallery and complete the accompanying activity on pages 7-17. Also be sure to visit the Pier 3, Level 3 Occupying exhibit and the Level 4 Pacific Reef exhibit to see examples of live coral and reef inhabitants.



AAAS Benchmarks

4C/M7-6-8: Human activities, such as reducing the amount of forest cover, increasing the amount and variety of chemicals released into the atmosphere and intensive farming, have changed the Earth’s land, oceans and atmosphere. Some of these changes have decreased the capacity of the environment to support some life forms. 5A/M1-6-8: One of the most general distinctions among organisms is between plants that use sunlight to make their own food and animals that consume energy-rich foods. Some kinds of organisms, many of them microscopic, cannot be neatly classified as either plants or animals.

5A/M5abc-6-8: All organisms, including the human species, are part of and depend on two main interconnected global food webs. One includes microscopic ocean plants, the animals that feed on them and finally, the animals that feed on those animals. The other web includes land plants, the animals that feed on them and so forth.



5D/E1-3-5: For any particular environment, some kinds of plants and animals thrive, some do not live as well and some do not survive at all.



5D/E3a-3-5: Organisms interact with one another in various ways besides providing food.

DAY 3: POST-VISIT ACTIVITIES The day after your visit, complete the post-visit activities, Activity 2 – Coral Reef Survivor on pages 18-24 and Activity 3 – Data-based Coral Bleaching on pages 25-31.

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MD Voluntary Curriculum: Science



Grade 5 - 3.0 Life Science A.1a. Identify and describe features and behaviors of some of the plants and animals living in a familiar environment, and explain ways that these organisms are well-suited to their environment.



Grade 5 - 6.0 Environmental Science B.2a. Explain how human activities may have positive consequences on the natural environment: recycling centers, native plantings and good farming practices.



Grade 5 - 6.0 Environmental Science B.2b. Explain how human activities may have negative consequences on the natural environment: damage or destruction done to habitats, air, water and land pollution.

Teacher Background CORAL REEFS Coral reefs are important marine ecosystems that are found in clear, shallow, tropical waters around the world. They provide habitat for diverse communities of marine animals and plants. Coral reefs consist of individual animals called coral polyps and their hard exoskeletons. These small animals have soft, cylindrical bodies and a ring of tentacles surrounding a mouth. The coral polyp is a member of the phylum Cnidaria, which also includes anemones, jellies, sea whips, sea fans and siphonophores. All members of this phylum, including coral, have tentacles which they use to catch prey. The tentacles are covered with stinging cells called nematocysts, which can stun or even kill small animals called zooplankton that drift too close to the coral. After the zooplankton have been stung, the tentacles direct them toward the central mouth where they are digested. Since coral polyps are soft-bodied animals, the bulk of a coral reef ecosystem comes from the hard exoskeleton polyps create around themselves. The exoskeleton is composed of

Coral Reefs – Grades 5-8

calcium carbonate (CaCO3) found in sea water, and provides protection for polyps. Since polyps occur in groups called colonies, coral reefs consist of a colony’s collective calcium carbonate exoskeleton in addition to the living polyps. All reef-building corals have algae called zooxanthellae living inside their tissues. Through the process of photosynthesis, the algae convert carbon dioxide and water into oxygen and carbohydrates. These carbohydrates provide nutrients for the coral polyp. The polyp, in return, uses oxygen for respiration and provides carbon dioxide and shelter to the zooxanthellae. Because these algae require light in order to perform photosynthesis, their coral hosts are restricted to relatively shallow (30 meters), clear water. The algae account for about half of the weight of the coral body, and algal pigments give the coral its color. Since the algae play such a crucial role in coral survival, without it, coral reproduction comes to a halt.

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WHERE DO REEFS GROW? Reef-building corals have very specific requirements for growth that limit their distribution. The water must be clear, shallow and warm, with an optimum temperature of 24 degrees Celsius (75 degrees Farenheit). This temperature requirement limits coral growth to tropical areas. Coral reefs are generally restricted to the eastern margins of continents where warm water from the equator arrives with the currents. Consequently, coral reefs form off the coast of Florida, but not off the coast of California, where the water is much colder. However, not all water along tropical coastlines is suitable for coral reefs. Other environmental factors, such as the amount of salt in the water, or salinity, can limit coral growth. Corals require a salinity of at least 25 parts per thousand (ppt) and do best in full sea water (35 ppt). Areas with high freshwater runoff, like the mouth of the Amazon River, lack coral reefs because the salinity is too low. Coral reefs exist where all the environmental factors necessary for coral growth coincide. The major areas of reef development are in the Caribbean and the Indo-Pacific regions. The largest reef in the world, the Great Barrier Reef, is located off the east coast of Australia and spans 1,200 miles.

CORAL REEF ECOSYSTEM In addition to corals, many other animals feed, hide and rest in the complex reef habitat. Sponges in brilliant colors grow as both encrusting patches and as freestanding shapes, including vase and basket sponges. Some mollusks live on the corals themselves, but many more live in the sandy areas and grass beds around the reef. Arthropods such as crabs, shrimp and spiny lobsters hide in the many nooks and crannies of the reef. Fish are the most prominent animals of the reef. They exhibit a variety of colors and fascinating ways of living. Many of them have seemingly strange body designs and social behaviors. These specializations provide efficient means of feeding, schooling and protection for a variety of fish, and enable all areas of the reef to be used as feeding, resting or hiding places during the day and night.

CORAL REEF FISH The rock-hard skeletons of corals do not protect them from all of the fish that inhabit the reef. Parrotfish have a special adaptation, consisting of a bony “beak” with teeth that are fused together into upper and lower plates. This allows these fish to graze on algae that grow on dead coral, as well as zooxanthellae in live coral, by crunching pieces of the hard coral to get to the attached vegetable matter. The coral bits are then ground in a bony mill in the throat and returned to the sediment in a fine-grained form. This feeding strategy of parrotfish creates much of the coral-derived “sand” in and around the reefs. In fact, one parrotfish can make up to a ton of this coral sand per year. Since a coral reef houses so many different kinds of fish and invertebrate species, encounters between individual animals are common. Interactions between fish of different species are often observed in the reef habitat. One example of this is a cleaning station. Smaller animals may appear to be “picking” or “biting” a larger one, with the “victim” doing nothing to defend itself. This is actually cleaning behavior; the smaller fish is removing parasites, debris or infected tissue from the skin of the larger fish. The cleaner lives in a semi-permanent territory called a “cleaning station,” which other fish recognize. Both parties benefit from this relationship: the larger fish gets rid of an irritant, and the cleaner gets a meal without being harmed. Cleaners include small fish such as gobies, cleaner wrasses and young porkfish, as well as many of the shrimp that live in surrounding sponges, anemones and crevices. Unique defense adaptations among fish species are also important features of coral reefs. For example, the four-eye butterflyfish are thought to use fake eyespots to direct enemies to the wrong end of the fish—the tail.

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sunlight, which starves zooxanthellae and results in coral bleaching. You can minimize fertilizer runoff by using little to no fertilizer on your lawn. Of course “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” is another important conservation concept for the world’s oceans and coral reefs. You can reduce the amount of water used in your home by turning faucets off when not in use and taking shorter showers instead of baths. Reducing the amount of water we use means that less water has to be treated in sewage treatment plants or in septic systems. Also, you will conserve energy by reducing the amount of water that needs to be pumped through treatment plants. Conserving energy reduces the load on fossil fuel plants, thereby reducing the pollution they produce, which is beneficial to coral reefs.

CORAL REEF CONSERVATION While the coral reef is one of the most complex and diverse environments in the world, it is also one of the most delicate. Changes to the clarity, temperature or salinity of the water can cause corals to die, or bleach. Coral bleaching refers to the evacuation of zooxanthellae, the color-producing organism in coral reefs, when conditions become less than ideal. When zooxanthellae evacuate, coral polyps die, which leaves the white calcium carbonate exoskeleton behind. Without zooxanthellae and polyps, coral reef ecosystems cannot function properly. Though you may not live in a tropical area, there are still things that you can do to protect coral reefs. To prevent sedimentation, which keeps sunlight from reaching zooxanthellae, you can plant trees. Tree roots not only anchor trees to the ground, but they also keep soil in place so runoff does not carry it into waterways, and eventually the ocean. You can also limit sedimentation by slowing down the flow of rainwater, which will result in less dirt and silt being washed into waterways. This can be accomplished by installing a rain barrel to collect water as it flows off your roof via rain gutters. Gravel driveways also impede the flow of water before it exits your property.

Physical destruction by anchors or human contact is another dangers facing coral reefs. Boats that drop anchor in coral reefs can destroy decades of coral growth in an instant. Careless divers can cause the same destruction by touching or removing pieces of coral reefs. You can prevent this destruction by anchoring your boat to a floating buoy instead of the ocean floor. If you visit a coral reef, be careful not to step on or touch coral, as any physical contact damages the fragile polyps. Instead, use your eyes and an underwater camera to observe and remember your visit. For more information about the importance of protecting coral reefs, be sure to visit the Atlantic Coral Reef gallery, the Level 3 Occupying exhibit, and the Level 4 Pacific Reef exhibit. Remember, even though you may not live in a tropical area, you can still help protect coral reef ecosystems, so be sure to ask your family, friends and neighbors to do their part in helping the coral reefs!

Another cause of coral bleaching is an algae bloom, which often result from fertilizer and excess nutrients entering tropical waters. Similar to sedimentation, algae blooms block

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Glossary

Nematocyst – a capsule containing a coiled barb that delivers a paralyzing sting when the capsule’s trigger is disturbed; used in defense and in capturing prey Photosynthesis – the process by which plants and algae convert carbon dioxide, water and light energy into carbohydrates and oxygen

Algae Bloom – a rapid algae growth caused by fertilizer or excessive nutrients in water; results in a very visible decline in water quality Anemone – a sedentary marine invertebrate with a columnar body and tentacles surrounding a central mouth Arthropod – an invertebrate with jointed limbs and a segmented body made of chitin; includes crustaceans and insects Calcium carbonate – a compound with the chemical formula CaCO3; commonly found in items throughout nature, including rocks, shells and coral

Polyp – a soft animal resembling an anemone that creates a hard exoskeleton around itself Rain barrel – a barrel designed to collect and store rainwater as it drips from a rooftop Runoff – water that is not absorbed into the ground, but instead flows over land and eventually into a stream, river or the ocean; runoff can carry loose soil, fertilizer, garbage or other pollutants into a body of water Salinity – a measure of the concentration of salt in a solution; measured in parts per thousand, or ppt

Cleaning station – a location where marine organisms congregate to have dead skin and parasites removed by cleaner fish

Schooling – fish of the same species swimming as a group; the group moves and changes directions at the same time; this behavior provides protection from predators

Cnidaria – phylum containing aquatic animals with stinging cells; includes corals, jellies, hydras and anemones

Sedimentation – the process by which sand, clay or silt gets into the water column and eventually settles on the bottom. Excessive amounts of sedimentation can be harmful to the Bay’s aquatic life.

Coral bleaching – occurs when poor water quality kills coral, leaving behind a colorless skeleton Ecosystem – a community of living organisms and their relationships with the non-living materials in a given area Exoskeleton – the hard outer covering that supports and protects a number of animals, including coral Habitat – the environment in which an organism or biological population lives or grows Mollusk – an invertebrate with a soft, unsegmented body, usually enclosed in a shell; an animal that is a member of the phylum Mollusca, including clams, oysters, scallops, squid and octopuses

Coral Reefs – Grades 5-8

Sponge – a multicellular marine animal whose porous body is supported by a fibrous skeletal framework; usually occurs in sessile colonies Zooplankton – small animals including crustaceans, fish larvae and protozoans that drift in the ocean; are eaten by larger animals including corals, jellies, and fish Zooxanthellae – single-celled, golden-brown algae that live in the tissues of a variety of organisms, including hard and soft corals; provide the host with energy from photosynthesis

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Resources

BRIDGE: CORAL BLEACHING www2.vims.edu/bridge/DATA.cfm?Bridge_ Location=archive0406.html Using real data, students can complete this activity on coral bleaching around the world. BRIDGE: CORAL SNAPSHOTS www2.vims.edu/bridge/DATA.cfm?Bridge_ Location=archive1109.html Biodiversity in Marine Protected Areas activity. Discover the methods of surveying coral reefs. CORALWATCH coral.org/resources/more_online_resources

NATIONAL OCEANIC AND ATMOSPHERIC ADMINISTRATION: OCEAN SERVICE EDUCATION oceanservice.noaa.gov/education/kits/ corals/welcome.html Includes information on coral biology, lesson plans and activities for children. REEF RELIEF reefrelief.org A global nonprofit membership organization dedicated to protecting coral reefs. Website includes information on coral reef biology, reef monitoring projects and links to activities for children.

Australian organization that monitors coral health.

REEFBASE reefbase.org/main.aspx

ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY epa.gov/OWOW/oceans/coral/

A global information system for coral reefs that includes photos, maps and scientific data.

Information on biology and conservation. Links to coralrelated documents geared toward adults. NATIONAL AQUARIUM – BALTIMORE, MD aqua.org NATIONAL OCEANIC AND ATMOSPHERIC ADMINISTRATION: CORAL REEF EDUCATIONAL RESOURCES coralreef.noaa.gov/outreach/rsourcecd08/posters.html A collection of coral reef-related education materials. Includes downloadable posters, lesson plans and activities. . NATIONAL OCEANIC AND ATMOSPHERIC ADMINISTRATION: CORAL REEF WATCH coralreefwatch.noaa.gov/satellite/index.html Includes near real-time data on environmental conditions of coral reefs.

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TEACHER PAGE

Activity 1 – Atlantic Coral Reef DESCRIPTION Coral reefs are diverse communities of marine plants and animals that rise above sandy ocean floors in some tropical areas of the world. The Atlantic Coral Reef exhibit at the National Aquarium, Baltimore, MD venue corresponds to a coral reef one might find in the Carribean or the Florida Keys. The coral structures and animals on display represent the natural inhabitants of those coral reefs. In this activity, students explore the Atlantic Coral Reef exhibit and use their observational skills to answer the questions on the Student Pages.

PROCEDURE 1. The day of your visit, distribute copies of the Student Pages for Activity 1 – Atlantic Coral Reef found on pages 13-17. The Aquarium instructor will also have copies of this activity. 2. Attend the presentation of Coral Reefs in the 4-D Immersion Theater at the Aquarium. 3. As a class, proceed to the Atlantic Coral Reef exhibit in the Aquarium. Have your students complete the worksheets found on pages 13-17 individually or in pairs. Discuss what can be done to protect coral reefs.. Note: Please supply your own clipboards and pencils for the activity as the Aquarium cannot provide these items.

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ANSWER KEY

Activity 1 – Atlantic Coral Reef CORAL REEFS OF THE WORLD The Atlantic Coral Reef exhibit at the National Aquarium is a representation of the coral reefs off the southeastern coast of the United States. The animals and types of coral on display are native to these reefs, which makes a trip through this exhibit similar to a SCUBA trip in the Florida Keys. There are coral reefs found in other parts of the world, too. Using the key below, identify the location of the reefs on the map. KEY

Great Barrier Reef (Australia)

Red Sea Coral Reef (Middle East)

Belize Barrier Reef (Central America)

Pulley Ridge (Florida, USA)

Pulley Ridge (Florida, USA)

Belize Barrier Reef (Central America)

Coral Reefs – Grades 5-8

Red Sea Coral Reef (Middle East)

Maldives Reefs (Indian Ocean)

Maldives Reefs (Indian Ocean)

Great Barrier Reef (Australia)

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ANSWER KEY

Activity 1 – Atlantic Coral Reef CORAL IN THE ATLANTIC CORAL REEF Coral reefs are made up of tiny animals called polyps. Polyps live together in groups called colonies, which make up coral reefs. These colonies can be different shapes, colors and sizes, depending on the species of coral. The Atlantic Coral Reef exhibit contains examples of many different types of coral that are in the Carribean. Use the checklist below to mark off the types of coral you see in the exhibit.

PILLAR CORAL

BRAIN CORAL

CAVERNOUS STAR CORAL

ELKHORN CORAL

STAGHORN CORAL

FINGER CORAL

MOUNTAINOUS STAR CORAL

FAN CORAL



LEAF CORAL

Answers may vary, however, all nine types of coral are represented in the Atlantic Coral Reef exhibit.

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ANSWER KEY

Activity 1 – Atlantic Coral Reef FISH THE ATLANTIC CORAL REEF EXHIBIT Coral reefs provide important habitat for a variety of animals, including fish. Using the information in the exhibit, pick two different types of fish and describe their appearances. Then, think about how their size, color or shape helps them to survive in their natural habitat. Also note how the fish is using the coral reef in its habitat. Is it hiding in it? Is it biting it? Answers vary, depending on species of fish chosen by student. Example answer: 1. FISH NAME: Green moray eel DESCRIPTION: Long, slender body, narrow snout, sharp teeth, green body

ADAPTATIONS FOR SURVIVAL: Sharp teeth to capture prey. Narrow body to hide in coral reef. Opens and

closes mouth to draw water over gills in order to breathe. HOW THE FISH USES CORAL:

Hides body in coral for protection and to ambush prey.

2. FISH NAME: DESCRIPTION:

ADAPTATIONS FOR SURVIVAL:

HOW THE FISH USES CORAL:

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ANSWER KEY

Activity 1 – Atlantic Coral Reef FISH BEHAVIORS Different behaviors of fish mean different things. Pick one fish and observe it for about five minutes. Check off a behavior every time it is exhibited by the fish. Use the key to learn more about what certain behaviors mean. FISH NAME:

Answers vary, depending on species of fish chosen by student.

BEHAVIORS OBSERVED:

Aggression

Cleaning

Rolling in Gravel

Swimming Alone

Schooling

Feeding

Hiding/Resting

Territorial Display

A GUIDE TO FISH BEHAVIOR Aggression

In a habitat where resources are limited, fish may have to scare off rivals using body language. The open mouth positions pictured here are to intimidate a fish’s opponent. Cleaning

Cleaner fish use their mouths to remove dead skin and parasites from other fish. When a fish is ready to be cleaned, it signals to the cleaner fish by holding an awkward-looking position to show that it poses no threat. Rolling in Gravel

Another way some fish get rid of parasites and dead skin is to roll around the rough gravel bottom. Schooling

Some fish swim in groups, called schools, as a way of protecting themselves. A predator can’t eat a whole group of fish and might be confused by their swimming. Hiding/Resting

Fish may not always be swimming. Look in the nooks and overhangs of the reef for fish that are resting or hiding. Territory

Some fish stake out one spot on a reef as “theirs.” Other fish or divers that come too close will be nipped and chased away.

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ANSWER KEY

Activity 1 – Atlantic Coral Reef A GUIDE TO FISH BEHAVIOR Territory

Some fish stake out one spot on a reef as “theirs.” Other fish or divers that come too close will be nipped and chased away.

Brooding (not always seen)

Some fish swim near their eggs in order to protect them. This behavior also keeps clean water running over the eggs while they develop.

CORALS IN DANGER Coral reefs are very important underwater ecosystems. They provide animals with food, shelter, breeding grounds and much more. Without coral reefs, many underwater species would not survive. Coral reefs are in danger. Human actions have hurt the reefs, and now many types of coral are endangered. Fortunately, there are things we each can do to help protect these important habitats. Using information in the exhibit, list at least two reasons corals are endangered. Then write down two things YOU can do to help protect corals. REASONS CORAL REEFS ARE IN DANGER:

1. Answers vary. Possible answers include: Destruction from boat anchors, physical contact by careless divers, 2. sediment runoff from coastal development, sewage runoff, 3. increased water temperature from climate change THINGS YOU CAN DO TO HELP PROTECT CORAL REEFS:

1. Answers vary. Possible answers include: anchoring boats to floating buoys, not purchasing coral products, 2. disposing of trash properly when boating, planting trees, carpooling and avoiding contact with coral while diving or snorkeling 3. Donate the change in your pockets to the Coral Reef Parking Meter at the top of the Atlantic Coral Reef exhibit ramp. All change goes toward protecting coral reefs.

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STUDENT PAGE

Activity 1 – Atlantic Coral Reef CORAL REEFS OF THE WORLD The Atlantic Coral Reef exhibit at the National Aquarium is a representation of the coral reefs off the southeastern coast of the United States. The animals and types of coral on display are native to these reefs, which makes a trip through this exhibit similar to a SCUBA trip in the Florida Keys. There are coral reefs found in other parts of the world, too. Using the key below, identify the location of the reefs on the map. KEY

Great Barrier Reef (Australia)

Red Sea Coral Reef (Middle East)

Belize Barrier Reef (Central America)

Pulley Ridge (Florida, USA)

Coral Reefs – Grades 5-8

Maldives Reefs (Indian Ocean)

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STUDENT PAGE

Activity 1 – Atlantic Coral Reef CORAL IN THE ATLANTIC CORAL REEF Coral reefs are made up of tiny animals called polyps. Polyps live together in groups called colonies, which make up coral reefs. These colonies can be different shapes, colors and sizes, depending on the species of coral. The Atlantic Coral Reef exhibit contains examples of many different types of coral that are in the Carribean. Use the checklist below to mark off the types of coral you see in the exhibit.

PILLAR CORAL

BRAIN CORAL

CAVERNOUS STAR CORAL

ELKHORN CORAL

STAGHORN CORAL

FINGER CORAL

MOUNTAINOUS STAR CORAL

FAN CORAL

Coral Reefs – Grades 5-8



LEAF CORAL

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STUDENT PAGE

Activity 1 – Atlantic Coral Reef FISH THE ATLANTIC CORAL REEF EXHIBIT Coral reefs provide important habitat for a variety of animals, including fish. Using the information in the exhibit, pick two different types of fish and describe their appearances. Then, think about how their size, color or shape helps them to survive in their natural habitat. Also note how the fish is using the coral reef in its habitat. Is it hiding in it? Is it biting it?

1. FISH NAME: DESCRIPTION:

ADAPTATIONS FOR SURVIVAL:

HOW THE FISH USES CORAL:

2. FISH NAME: DESCRIPTION:

ADAPTATIONS FOR SURVIVAL:

HOW THE FISH USES CORAL:

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STUDENT PAGE

Activity 1 – Atlantic Coral Reef FISH BEHAVIORS Different behaviors of fish mean different things. Pick one fish and observe it for about five minutes. Check off a behavior every time it is exhibited by the fish. Use the key to learn more about what certain behaviors mean. FISH NAME: BEHAVIORS OBSERVED:

Aggression

Cleaning

Rolling in Gravel

Swimming Alone

Schooling

Feeding

Hiding/Resting

Territorial Display

A GUIDE TO FISH BEHAVIOR Aggression

In a habitat where resources are limited, fish may have to scare off rivals using body language. The open mouth positions pictured here are to intimidate a fish’s opponent. Cleaning

Cleaner fish use their mouths to remove dead skin and parasites from other fish. When a fish is ready to be cleaned, it signals to the cleaner fish by holding an awkward-looking position to show that it poses no threat. Rolling in Gravel

Another way some fish get rid of parasites and dead skin is to roll around the rough gravel bottom. Schooling

Some fish swim in groups, called schools, as a way of protecting themselves. A predator can’t eat a whole group of fish and might be confused by their swimming. Hiding/Resting

Fish may not always be swimming. Look in the nooks and overhangs of the reef for fish that are resting or hiding. Territory

Some fish stake out one spot on a reef as “theirs.” Other fish or divers that come too close will be nipped and chased away.

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STUDENT PAGE

Activity 1 – Atlantic Coral Reef A GUIDE TO FISH BEHAVIOR Territory

Some fish stake out one spot on a reef as “theirs.” Other fish or divers that come too close will be nipped and chased away.

Brooding (not always seen)

Some fish swim near their eggs in order to protect them. This behavior also keeps clean water running over the eggs while they develop.

CORALS IN DANGER Coral reefs are very important underwater ecosystems. They provide animals with food, shelter, breeding grounds and much more. Without coral reefs, many underwater species would not survive. Coral reefs are in danger. Human actions have hurt the reefs, and now many types of coral are endangered. Fortunately, there are things we each can do to help protect these important habitats. Using information in the exhibit, list at least two reasons corals are endangered. Then write down two things YOU can do to help protect corals. REASONS CORAL REEFS ARE IN DANGER:

1. 2. 3. THINGS YOU CAN DO TO HELP PROTECT CORAL REEFS:

1. 2. 3. Donate the change in your pockets to the Coral Reef Parking Meter at the top of the Atlantic Coral Reef exhibit ramp. All change goes toward protecting coral reefs.

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TEACHER PAGE

Activity 2 – Coral Reef Survivor DESCRIPTION While the coral reef is one of the most complex and diverse environments in the world, it is also one of the most delicate. Something as seemingly harmless as grazing coral with a flipper while diving can destroy years of coral growth. Everyone can do something to minimize the hazards coral reefs face and protect this important ecosystem. As a follow up to your Aquarium Coral Reefs program, this activity tests students’ knowledge of coral reefs in a Jeopardy-style trivia game. As the game progresses, students have the opportunity to obtain chance cards that can either describe why their reef is healthy or why it is unhealthy. The team with the healthiest reef by the game’s end is the winner.

PROCEDURE 1. Cut out 24 question cards that are the same size as the examples pictured on page 19. For each card, write a category

and point value on one side and a corresponding question and answer on the other. Categories, point values, questions and answers can be found on pages 20-22.

2. Group the cards according to category and write the category names across the top of the class blackboard or whiteboard. Adhere the cards to the board below the appropriate category. Arrange them in order of increasing point value so the 100 point cards are at the top of the category column and the 400 point cards are at the bottom. 3. Copy and cut out the 20 chance cards pictured on pages 23-24. 4.

Divide your class into two teams. Have the first team select a question card from the board based on category and point value. Read the question to the team. If they answer correctly, award the team the point value listed on the card and allow them to select another question card. If they answer incorrectly, ask the second team the same question. If they answer correctly, they are awarded the points and receive another turn. If neither team answers correctly, read the answer and allow the first team to select a new question card. The game ends when all the question cards have been selected.

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At the beginning of their turn, a team may use their accrued points to purchase chance cards for 300 points apiece. Once purchased, have the team read the statement on the chance card aloud. The statement reflects either a healthy or an unhealthy reef. Keep track of how many “healthy reef ” and “unhealthy reef ” chance cards each team receives. At the end of the game, if a team has more than 300 points left, they must spend them on chance cards until they can not purchase any more. The team with the greatest number of “healthy reef ” chance cards by the end of the game is the winner.

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TEACHER PAGE

Activity 2 – Coral Reef Survivor

FOOD 300 Points (front)

Question: Why are zooxanthellae important to coral survival? Answer: Zooxanthellae perform photosynthesis, which creates nutrients for coral polyps. (back)

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TEACHER PAGE

Activity 2 – Coral Reef Survivor QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS: CONSERVATION: 100 points:



Q:

True or false: People who don’t live near water can do something to help coral reefs.



A:

True: Even in a landlocked area, people can protect coral reefs.

200 points:



Q:

Name one thing that divers can do to protect coral during a trip to a reef.



A:

Anchor boat to floating buoy instead of dropping an anchor, dispose of trash properly during trip, don’t touch or remove coral.

300 points:



Q:

How does planting trees help coral reefs?



A:

Tree roots help hold soil in place so it doesn’t wash into waterways, and eventually the ocean. Soil can cloud ocean water, preventing sunlight from reaching zooxanthellae on corals.

400 points:



Q:

How does fertilizer harm coral reefs?



A:

Fertilizer can cause algae blooms in water, which block sunlight from reaching zooxanthellae on corals.

REEF INHABITANTS: 100 points:



Q:

Why are coral reefs important?



A:

Coral reefs provide habitat and food for a variety of marine organisms.

200 points:



Q:

Why do fish school?



A:

To protect themselves from predators.

300 points:



Q:

How do parrotfish use coral reefs?



A:

They use their “beak” to eat algae off coral. (Parrotfish then grind up bits of coral and redeposit it as fine sand around the reef.)



400 points:



Q:



A:

What is a “cleaning station” (as found on a coral reef)?

It is a location on the reef where a smaller “cleaner” fish lives and removes debris, parasites and infected tissue from larger fish.

Coral Reefs – Grades 5-8



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TEACHER PAGE

Activity 2 – Coral Reef Survivor CLASSIFICATION: 100 points:



Q:

Is coral a plant, animal, or a rock?



A:

The coral polyp is an animal. Zooxanthellae is a plant and live within the tissue of coral polyps. Their hard exoskeleton is rock-like and is made of calcium carbonate.

200 points:



Q:

To what phylum do corals belong?



A:

Cnidaria

300 points:



Q:

Name another member of the phylum to which hard or stony corals belong.



A:

Anemones, sea whips, sea fans, fire corals, jellies, zoanthids

400 points:



Q:

Name one species of coral represented in the Atlantic Coral Reef exhibit.



A:

Pillar, brain, cavernous star, elkhorn, staghorn, finger, mountainous star, fan and leaf coral.

CONDITIONS FOR SURVIVAL: 100 points:



Q:

Describe the type of water coral need in order to survive. (List at least two characteristics.)



A:

Warm (~75 degrees Farenheit), shallow (<30m), clear, salt (25 – 35 ppt) water.

200 points:



Q:



A:

Why can corals survive only in clear, shallow (30m) water?

Since corals get nutrients from photosynthesizing algae, they need to have access to sunlight, which will only penetrate clear, shallow water.

300 points:



Q:

Why does the Atlantic Coral Reef exhibit at the National Aquarium’s Baltimore venue contain artificial coral?



A:

Living coral is sensitive to salinity, light, temperature, etc. and is difficult to maintain on exhibit on a large scale.

400 points:



Q:

Why are coral reefs typically found on the eastern coast of continents?



A:

The water is warmer than on the western coast because it is coming from the equator.

FOOD: 100 points:



Q:

How do corals catch their prey?



A:

Stinging cells (nematocysts) on the coral’s tentacles stun or kill the prey as they swim by.

Coral Reefs – Grades 5-8

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TEACHER PAGE

Activity 2 – Coral Reef Survivor FOOD (continued): 200 points: Q:

What is the name for the stinging cells on a coral’s tentacles?

A:

Nematocysts

300 points:



Q:

Why are zooxanthellae important to coral survival?



A:

Zooxanthellae perform photosynthesis, which creates nutrients for coral polyps.

400 points:



Q:

What benefit do corals provide to zooxanthellae?



A:

Corals provide shelter and carbon dioxide for zooxanthellae.

EXOSKELETON: 100 points:



Q:

What is the exoskeleton of hard coral made of ?



A:

Calcium carbonate

200 points:



Q:

What gives coral its color?



A:

The pigments of zooxanthellae.

300 points:



Q:

What makes corals bleach?



A:

Zooxanthellae, which provide pigment to corals, evacuate when conditions become less than ideal.

FINAL BONUS QUESTION: 400 points:



Q:

Name the largest coral reef in the world.



A:

The Great Barrier Reef of Australia

Coral Reefs – Grades 5-8

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TEACHER PAGE

Activity 2 – Coral Reef Survivor CHANCE CARDS

HEALTHY REEF!

HEALTHY REEF!

A family docked their boat to a A SCUBA diver chose to take floating buoy instead of dropping an underwater pictures of your reef anchor into your fragile coral reef. instead of grabbing a piece of coral as a souvenir.

HEALTHY REEF! A family planted trees in their yard, which kept soil from washing off their lawn and clouding the water in your reef.

HEALTHY REEF!

HEALTHY REEF!

A class of students participated in a beach clean-up, which meant there was less trash to pollute your reef.

Students donated their change to a reef protection fund, such as the Coral Reef Parking Meter at the National Aquarium, which works to conserve reefs.

A family chose not to fertilize their lawn, which meant there was less fertilizer to wash out to sea and cause harmful algal blooms above your reef.

HEALTHY REEF!

HEALTHY REEF!

HEALTHY REEF!

A family installed a rain barrel, which kept rain from washing soil, fertilizer and trash from their lawn and into the water in your reef.

A student chose not to buy coral souvenirs while on vacation, which meant less coral was harvested from your reef.

A student chose not to put tropical fish harvested from your coral reef into his/her aquarium tank.

UNHEALTHY REEF!

UNHEALTHY REEF!

A careless vacationer dropped an anchor onto your coral reef which destroyed an important marine habitat.

An inconsiderate diver grabbed a piece of your living coral reef while diving, which destroyed years of coral growth.

HEALTHY REEF!

HEALTHY REEF! A family installed a driveway made of gravel instead of asphalt which helped prevent soil and fertilizer from being washed from land into your reef.

Coral Reefs – Grades 5-8

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TEACHER PAGE

Activity 2 – Coral Reef Survivor CHANCE CARDS

UNHEALTHY REEF!

UNHEALTHY REEF!

UNHEALTHY REEF!

A developer cut down trees, which allowed soil to wash into the ocean, blocking sunlight from reaching the coral in your reef.

A family threw their trash into the water surrounding your reef while out on their boat.

A student chose not to recycle, which created unnecessary waste that ended up in your reef.

UNHEALTHY REEF!

UNHEALTHY REEF!

UNHEALTHY REEF!

A student ordered a type of fish to eat that was not harvested properly from your coral reef.

A student selected a tropical fish for his/her aquarium that was not harvested properly from your coral reef.

A family used fertilizer on their garden, which washed into the ocean and contributed to a harmful algal bloom in your reef.

UNHEALTHY REEF!

UNHEALTHY REEF!

A student let the water run while brushing his/her teeth, which meant more dirty water entered your reef.

A developer built a hotel too close to the coastline, which caused pollution and soil to enter the waters of your reef.

Coral Reefs – Grades 5-8

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TEACHER PAGE

Activity 3 – Data-based Coral Bleaching DESCRIPTION Coral reefs are found only in tropical oceans near the equator. This limited range occurs because coral polyps have very specific environmental requirements. Fluctuations in the clarity, temperature, or salinity of the water surrounding them can cause corals to die, or bleach. Coral bleaching refers to the evacuation of zooxanthellae, the color producing organism in coral reefs, that takes place when conditions become less than ideal. When zooxanthellae evacuate, coral polyps die, which leaves the white calcium carbonate exoskeleton behind. Without zooxanthellae and polyps, coral reef ecosystems cannot function properly. In this Coral Reefs program post-visit activity, students note trends in sea surface temperature and explore how changes in temperature can affect coral. Using the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Coral Reef Watch website, students view and interpret near-real-time data related to sea surface temperature. They graph trends in sea surface temperatureand hypothesize how these trends affect actual coral reefs.

PROCEDURE 1. Review the environmental requirements of coral with students. Refer to pages 2-4 of the Teacher Background. Be sure

to include water temperature, salinity and clarity in your review. Explain that NOAA uses satellites to monitor some of these parameters and publishes this information on the internet. The students use this information to answer questions related to coral reef health.

2. Distribute copies of the Student Pages for Activity 3 – Data-based Coral Bleaching on pages 29-31 to your students. 3. Divide students into pairs or small groups of no more than four. Arrange for each pair or group to have access to a computer and internet for the duration of this activity. Have them complete Steps A through D on the Student Pages. 4. Discuss the answers as a class. In particular, discuss factors that contribute to climate change and changes in sea surface temperature. What can your class do to minimize changes in sea surface temperature and thus, coral bleaching?

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ANSWER KEY

Activity 3 – Data-based Coral Bleaching DIRECTIONS Visit NOAA’s Coral Reef Watch web site at coralreefwatch.noaa.gov/satellite/index.html. You should see a web page that looks like the one pictured to the right. Using the information available on the web site, and links contained within it, answer the following questions in the space provided.

STEP A What is coral bleaching? It is the loss of the symbiotic algae (zooxanthellae) that give corals their distinctive colors.

What are some factors that can cause corals to bleach? Exposure to high levels of light, increased ultraviolet radiation, temperature or salinity extremes, reduced light levels due to high turbidity or sedimentation and bacterial infections

According to this web site, what has caused the most coral bleaching events since 1979? Increased sea water temperatures associated with global climate change and el Niño/la Niña events. Elevated ultraviolet and visible light may have played a part, too.

What does “SST” stand for?

Sea surface temperature

How might changes in SST affect coral reef health? Increases or decreases in sea surface temperature might harm zooxanthellae. If this happens, zooxanthellae may evacuate the coral reef, which would cause coral polyps and the reef itself to die, or bleach.

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ANSWER KEY

Activity 3 – Data-based Coral Bleaching STEP B Using the map of worldwide SST, what is the approximate SST off the southeastern coast of the United States today? Don’t forget to use units! (If data is not available for today’s date, use the most recent set of SST measurements.) Answers range from -2.0 degrees Celsius to 34.0 degrees Celsius. Answers will vary from day to day and from group to group, depending on their interpretation of color-coded data.

Using the Image Archives available on the web site, determine the SST off the southeastern coast of the United States on today’s date for the last five years. Data is located under “W. Hemi” link for each date. Record data on the table below. (If SST is not available for today’s date, use data for the next-closest date.)

SST for Southeastern United States (degrees Celsius) Today One year ago Two years ago Three years ago Four years ago Five years ago

Coral Reefs – Grades 5-8

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ANSWER KEY

Activity 3 – Data-based Coral Bleaching STEP C Using the information recorded in Step B, create a graph in the space below to show how SST off the southeastern coast of the United States has changed over time. Be sure to include a title for the graph and label the x-axis and the y-axis. SEA SURFACE TEMPERATURE OFF THE SOUTHEASTERN COAST OF THE UNITED STATES from (today’s date five years ago) to (today’s date)

33

SST (degrees Celsius)

32 Graphs will vary, depending on data and scale chosen by students. Title should incorporate SST and years of data represented. X-axis should represent progression of time and be labeled as such. Y-axis should represent SST and include units.

31 30 29 28 2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

2009

Years for which data was collected on (today’s date) +/- (number of days)

STEP D According to the graph in Step C, did the SST off the southeastern coast of the United States change over time?

Answers will vary according to data. If SST did change over time, how might those changes affect coral reefs in that area?

Any increases or decreases in sea surface temperature would stress zooxanthellae living within coral polyps. If the changes in sea surface temperature were significant enough, the zooxanthellae might die or leave the coral polyps, which would cause the polyps, and eventually the reef, to die or bleach.

Coral Reefs – Grades 5-8

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STUDENT PAGE

Activity 3 – Data-based Coral Bleaching DIRECTIONS Visit NOAA’s Coral Reef Watch web site at coralreefwatch.noaa.gov/satellite/index.html. You should see a web page that looks like the one pictured to the right. Using the information available on the web site, and links contained within it, answer the following questions in the space provided.

STEP A What is coral bleaching?

What are some factors that can cause corals to bleach?

According to this web site, what has caused the most coral bleaching events since 1979?

What does “SST” stand for? How might changes in SST affect coral reef health?

Coral Reefs – Grades 5-8

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STUDENT PAGE

Activity 3 – Data-based Coral Bleaching STEP B Using the map of worldwide SST, what is the approximate SST off the southeastern coast of the United States today? Don’t forget to use units! (If data is not available for today’s date, use the most recent set of SST measurements.)

Using the Image Archives available on the web site, determine the SST off the southeastern coast of the United States on today’s date for the last five years. Data is located under “W. Hemi” link for each date. Record data on the table below. (If SST is not available for today’s date, use data for the next-closest date.)

SST for Southeastern United States (degrees Celsius) Today One year ago Two years ago Three years ago Four years ago Five years ago

Coral Reefs – Grades 5-8

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STUDENT PAGE

Activity 3 – Data-based Coral Bleaching STEP C Using the information recorded in Step B, create a graph in the space below to show how SST off the southeastern coast of the United States has changed over time. Be sure to include a title for the graph and label the x-axis and the y-axis.

STEP D According to the graph in Step C, did the SST off the southeastern coast of the United States change over time?

If SST did change over time, how might those changes affect coral reefs in that area?

Coral Reefs – Grades 5-8

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