The highest diversity of shallow benthic species in the world is in tropical Indo-Pacific, so let's see how many we can find and identify.
Students will each be a 'census-taker' of 1 coral outcropping or patch reef. If the patch reef is large, 3 or 4 students could float around it and collect data.
They will count the number of species, the number of individuals of each specie, and record data on where each individual 'hangs out' (in the coral, under the coral, in the sandy area around the coral head, above the coral...).
Census takers in the lagoon
Students snorkel in an area of the lagoon with easily defined 'neighborhoods'. After choosing their areas, students should just float and observe. The tendency is to follow an interesting fish, but for this activity, students will try to stay in one area and observe the inhabitants, and passers-by of one coral outcropping.
Materials: Waterproof writing tablets, masks, snorkels, and fins. Waterproof cameras, if possible.
Follow-up: Back at the education center, project the presentations and video:
- Life in the Coral Garden.odp
- Adaptations for Living Spaces of the Reef.odp
- Coral Reefs: Unraveling the Web (YouTube)
Questions: After the videos, ask students about the fish and invertebrates they have seen:
- What adaptations did you see in, on, and around your coral neighborhood?
- Did you see any herbivores? omnivores? detrivores? How do you know?
- From one of the species you saw, could you describe a simple food chain?
The following check-list can be used as is, or modified for data collection during observations. If the sheets are printed, laminated, and put on clipboards, waterproof slates are not needed
|Coral Garden Census taken on ______________2018|
|Species||under the coral||in the coral||above the coral||eating?||hiding?||chasing?||visitor?||in a group? how many?||notes and further information|