New Book for Kids: Searching for Great White Sharks

Big animals like great white sharks are often the objects of strong emotions, which can lead to the spread of misinformation and myth. For that reason, nonfiction books for kids like Searching for Great White Sharks: A Shark Diver’s Quest for Mr. Big (Shark Expedition) by Mary M Cerullo and photographs by Jeffrey L Rotman are so important.

This book is unique because Mary Cerullo tells the story of world-renowned underwater photographer Jeffrey Rotman’s quest to capture great white sharks on film and the readers get to see the resulting up close photos he took. Thus, the text and illustrations are tied together intimately. Cerullo gives Rotman’s first impressions of the sharks when he finally meets one face to face (big and stealthy!) and details of how he photographed them (wait!).

Rotman traveled around the globe, following the great white sharks as they search for food from Australia to South Africa and then to Guadalupe Island in Mexico.

oceans(Imagery by Jesse Allen, NASA’s Earth Observatory, using data from the General Bathymetric Chart of the Oceans (GEBCO) produced by the British Oceanographic Data Centre.)

Sprinkled in are facts about great white shark biology and behavior.  For example, great white sharks are fish and fish are cold-blooded, so great white sharks must be cold-blooded, right? Not really. It turns out that great white sharks have the ability to warm their bodies above the temperature of the surrounding water, so they are not strictly cold-blooded. 

Although written for children, this book does not gloss over or sanitize the fact that people sometimes get bitten by great white sharks. In fact, on page 13 is the story of Rodney Fox, a man who was bitten by a shark. The text is accompanied by small but very graphic photographs of his extensive wounds.

In what has become an all too familiar theme for books about animals, Cerullo also reports that the numbers of great white sharks in the oceans are declining to the point where they are a vulnerable species (getting closer to extinction). She mentions conservationists are working to get laws passed to protect great whites and also are pushing for the creation of more and larger marine sanctuaries as ways to prevent their disappearance.

Searching for Great White Sharks is a topical book, given the interest generated by popular media such as Discovery Channel’s Shark Week. It is a perfect antidote to some of the hype, yet it is also likely to generate more realistic interest in these important and fascinating fish.

If you enjoy this title, check out the others in the Shark Expedition series.

Age Range: 11 – 15 years
Grade Level: 5 – 7
Publisher: CompassPointBooks  (July 1, 2014)
ISBN-10: 0756549078
ISBN-13: 978-0756549077


Disclosures:  The book was provided by the publisher for review purposes. I am an affiliate for Amazon, and if you click through the linked titles or ads and make a purchase, I will receive a small commission at no extra charge to you. Proceeds will be used to maintain this self-hosted blog.


Come visit the STEM Friday blog each week to find more great Science, Technology, Engineering and Math books.


This post is part of our ocean science series. Visit the landing page for links to all the related posts.


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Gyotaku Fish Print Activity for Kids

Today we are going to continue with our ocean science-themed activities for kids, with a fish printing activity based on the Japanese art form, gyotaku.

Gyotaku is wonderful because it incorporates both art and science into a combined learning experience. While making colorful prints, children observe the fish closely. In the process they learn about fish external anatomy, and also details useful in identification of individual species. See this index for an extensive list of examples of gyotaku fish prints by artist Joe McAuliffe.

fishprint- gyotaku

Gyotaku started in Japan as a way for fishermen to record their catch. Traditionally, gyotaku prints were made by applying inks to an actual fish and then pressing thin, but tough paper onto it. Today you can buy rubber or plastic replicas to use for printing. You can print on paper or cloth as you choose. The fish example above is printed on cloth.

You will need:

  • Fish or fish model
  • Block printing inks
  • Cloth or paper
  • Plates or trays for holding the ink
  • Brayer (hand roller for loading and applying ink)
  • Newspapers, old tablecloths or sheets to cover printing surface
  • Fish external anatomy illustrations, such as these fish resources at Exploring Nature Educational Resource (optional)

The process is relatively simple, but may require practice to achieve the desired results. If you are using actual fish, you will need to wash it with water to remove mucous/debris from the surface. Dry the fish. Place some block printing ink into the plates or trays, and ink up the brayer by rolling it through the ink. Apply the ink evenly to the fish. Now you may either press the paper onto the fish or press the fish onto the paper, as evenly as possible. Play around with the technique to see which way works best for you and how much ink is needed. Set the paper or cloth aside and allow to dry.

Traditionally not much else is added to the print, but you can use your imagination. This gyataku print includes seaweed.


There are loads of places to learn more about gyotaku on the Internet, just load up your favorite search engine and go.

Models to use for printing are also available on Amazon (photo is link).

If you live in the Phoenix area, the Desert Botanical Garden has “Fish Out of Water,” a gyotaku print exhibit running September 26, 2014 – January 4, 2015.


This post is part of our ocean science series. Visit the landing page for links to all the related posts.


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Invertebrate of the Week: Jellyfish

Usually we have the Bug of the Week series on Wednesdays, but since we are going with an ocean science theme this week, let’s take a look at a group of marine invertebrates, the jellyfish, instead



Jellyfish live in oceans throughout the world. They can be a variety of shapes and colors.


In general, jellyfish have a bowl-shaped main body called the bell. They also have slender tentacles that usually contain the stinging cells or nematocysts. The jellyfish in the photograph above have long, slender strand-like tentacles, but some species have only a tiny fringe of tentacles along the edge of the bell, or even no tentacles at all. The frilly, lighter colored parts are the oral arms, which help capture and move prey.

Jellyfish range in size from those having a bell about 2 cm in diameter to some that are over 40 cm in diameter.

You can see some of the diversity of sizes and shapes in this video:

One concern that marine scientists have, which was mentioned at the end of the video, is that as the numbers of predators of jellyfish rapidly decline that jellyfish will become much more abundant and have more frequent blooms (see for example, this infographic).

Jellyfish Craft Activity

Learn about jellyfish anatomy by making a jellyfish model.




  • Coffee filters
  • Markers
  • Construction paper
  • Scissors
  • Yarn
  • Tape, glue and or stapler

Color the coffee filter with markers. It will represent the bell. If you have time, wetting the coffee filters will allow the marker inks to run and bleed together, making an interesting effect. If you wet them, allow the coffee filters to dry (on paper towels or wax paper to prevent the ink from staining other surfaces).

Fold the construction paper lengthwise. Have the children either cut strips to be the oral arms, or cut arm shapes as shown in the example, depending on their skill with scissors. Cut the yarn into 10 to 16 inch lengths, 6 or as many as desired.

Staple, glue or tape the oral arms into the center of the coffee filter “bell.” Tape, staple or glue the yarn to the edge of the coffee filter to form the tentacles. You may want to attach another piece of string or yarn to the top and center of the coffee filter for hanging.

If your children are familiar with a particular type of jellyfish, modify the pattern accordingly.


Are you going to a beach sometime this year? Are you interested in learning more about jellyfish? If so, you might want to look into the citizen science opportunity known as JellyWatch.


This post is part of our ocean science series. Visit the landing page for links to all the related posts.


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