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If you liked the beach science activities from this summer, you might also be interested in learning more about dolphins.

Winter's Tail is a new children's book coming out in October. It is the heartrending story of a young dolphin named Winter who lost her tail after becoming entangled in a crab trap line.  After she healed, she was fitted with a prosthetic tail.

Scholastic and Turtle Pond Interactive have put together some activities to coincide with the book's debut. You can see a short video introduction (Note: the video shows a mauled tail ), and find teaching materials at http://www.scholastic.com/winterstail/.

One of the events will be a webcast of a virtual field trip to the Clearwater Marine Aquarium in Clearwater Florida on Wednesday, October 7, from 1:00 p.m. to 1:45 p.m. (Eastern Standard Time).

Check out the science activities included in the educational materials.
There's also an excerpt of the Winter's Tail book.

Winter's Tail: How One Little Dolphin Learned To Swim Again
by Juliana Hatkoff, Isabella Hatkoff and Craig Hatkoff

1

Our family finally made it to the beach and had a lot of fun. We visited the Monterey Bay Aquarium and saw the "Secret Life of Sea Horses" exhibit. It was awesome, take a peek:

What kind of creatures are sea horses? Are they fish? They have an exterior that looks rather hard, so some people might wonder if they are crustaceans. The tiny fins and gills give it away though, sea horses are fish! If you replay the video, look for the tiny gills and fins moving.

Sea horses and their relatives, the pipefish and seadragons, are called gasterosteiform fish because they lack scales and have bony plates instead. They are poor swimmers and often rely on camouflage to hide from predators. The seadragons in particular have so many leafy flaps on their bodies they look like floating seaweed instead of animals.

Sea horses are carnivores and eat small crustaceans, such as tiny shrimp and planktonic invertebrates.

Activities:

1.Gyotaku and fish anatomy

Are you familiar with the Japanese art of gyotaku, making prints or rubbings from fish?

gyotaku

Traditionally, prints were made by applying paint to actual fish. Today you can also buy rubber or plastic replicas if you don't have access to whole fish. You can print on paper or cloth as you choose. This particular fish is printed on cloth.

Gyotaku is great because it incorporates both art and science into a fun learning experience. While the children are looking at the fish they can learn fish anatomy (see resources below) and also details useful in identification of individual species. There are loads of places to learn more about gyotaku on the Internet, just load up your favorite search engine and go.

Try this gyotaku lesson plan at ArtsEdge for ideas.

Dick Blick art supplies has a model sea horse.

Acorn Naturalists also sells gyotaku supplies.

2. Moving Through the Water.

Different fish have different shaped bodies. Do some move through the water more easily than others?

(See fish body shapes .pdf in resources below) Edit: no longer available

Gather:

  • modeling clay
  • string or yarn
  • scissors
  • sink with water

Cut a few pieces of string about 18 inches long (at least two). Form a few golf ball-sized lumps, the same number as pieces of string. Take a small lump of clay and wrap around one end of the string, so the string is embedded. Form the lump into a rough sea horse shape. Now take another ball of clay and wrap around another piece of string. Form this into a typical fish shape, such as a trout. This shape is called fusiform. Put each shape into the sink and drag across the water. Does one shape move more easily than others? Try some other fish shapes as well. Which shape moves through the water most easily?

Resources:

Nova Program: Kingdom of the Seahorse Resources

National Geographic Seahorse

Tennessee Aquarium Seahorses

(Edit: broken links were removed.)

Now it is time to finish our summer beach science series and get ready for fall. We'll miss the sand between our toes (although I think I still have some in my hair), but look forward to a brisk change of pace and some autumn foliage.

ocean

To check the rest of the posts on beach science, follow these links:

Shore Birds

Tide Pool Invertebrates

Beach Science- Boats

Beach Science Algae

Beach Science-Sand

Beach Science-Seawater

Weekend science fun will be short this week because a few things are getting in the way. (Sick cat, sick computer, etc.)

To continue beach science, let's take a look at some other common visitors to the seashore. Grab an identification guide and some binoculars, and a camera if you want, and let's investigate.

sea gull

You may have seen sea gulls dozens of times, but have you really looked at one? Check out those pink webbed feet.

Investigation 1. How do the beaks and feet of shore birds differ from those of the song birds in your community? How are they similar? Ever seen a pelican at the beach?

shore birds

Shore birds always seem busy.

Investigation 2. What do shore birds eat?

Investigation 3. Do shore birds drink? Where do they get their water?

shore birds

Shore birds are often in big groups, like these cormorants.

Investigation 4. Why are shore birds often seen in flocks?

Investigation 5. Where do different types of shore birds nest?

(Hint for 4 and 5: think about bird movement or migration).

shore birds

Now lie down on the beach, close your eyes and listen.

Investigation 6. What sounds do shore birds make?

Hope you have fun discovering shore birds.

Drop us a note in the comments and let us know what you find out.

Edit: To check the rest of the posts on beach science, follow these links:

Sea Horses and Other Fish

Tide Pool Invertebrates

Beach Science- Boats

Beach Science Algae

Beach Science-Sand

Beach Science-Seawater