Guardians of the Deep would like to invite all those kids wanting to explore the awesome ocean realm but, due to the recent COVID-19 Lockdown, think they aren’t able to. Between this page and the Guardians Facebook Page, I will be uploading activities and crafts (with helpful links) that will allow kids to immerse themselves in the wonder of the underwater world. Just because we can’t visit the beach, doesn’t mean that we can’t still make good ocean-minded choices, explore the deep-sea and fill in your Ocean Journals.
I will hold “Ask a Marine Biologist” Sessions on the Guardians Facebook Page, email your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, and even try and rope in some ocean-minded friends from other marine fields to join us for these sessions.
I will continue to add activities, crafts, learning resources and links. If you have any suggestions (topics you would like covered or crafts/activities you would like sourced) or questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me on the above email address.
How to Make Good Ocean-Minded Choices during Lockdown
One of the key aspects of Guardians of the Deep is realising that our everyday choices hold the power to bring about positive environmental change. At the beginning of each Guardians session, we chat about the good choices that we have made during the week to share ideas and inspire others to join the shifting tide of perceptions. Being confined to your home and not being able to attend beach clean-ups doesn’t mean that you can’t still make good choices for the ocean. If you would like to share your ideas, post them on the Guardians Facebook page. I will add some of your really cool ideas to this page. Here are a few ideas to start you off on your journey to make a positive difference for the environment (click on the links below for more information on the ideas)…
- Start a compost heap: This will reduce the amount of refuse that needs to be collected every week, will put food scraps to good use by returning them to the earth and provide nutritious compost for your garden during a time when leaving your home for such items is not allowed.
- Make ecobricks: Not only will you be removing these non-recyclable items from the system; you can also donate these bricks to local upskilling and building initiatives.
- Support your local farm shop: When you have to go out for food, why not make it local? This minimises the time spent out of your home, it also supports a small local business that might be struggling during this time, and you can reduce your carbon footprint by supporting local. Neighbourhood Farm is open during the lockdown, with loads of yummy, healthy options. Remember to practise responsible lockdown behaviour – only leave your home if absolutely necessary, keep as safe distance from other people, follow the guidelines that will be in place at various establishments.
- Learn about the Dirty Dozen for your post-lockdown beach clean-ups: Not only will you now know which items are the biggest contributors to marine pollution, you can also start to think of ways to phase them out of your lifestyle
- Recycle: While stopping the usage of single-use products is definitely the ultimate goal, recycling already bought items is better than sending them to the dump. By reusing the materials in certain products, it will free up space in landfills and preserve natural resources. Cape Town offers a free recycling service through Wasteplan.
- Use eco-friendly household cleaners and detergents: Our laundry detergents and household cleaners end up in freshwater and marine ecosystems so look for those products that are biodegradable, made from plant-based ingredients and are phosphate- and cruelty-free. Pick n Pay (Green Household) and Checkers (Simple Truth) have awesome ranges of effective eco-friendly cleaning products that smell really good and don’t harm the environment when used.
- Brew loose tea: Teabags release billions of microplastics into you and the environment. Why not go bagless? It’s better for the environment and your compost heap.
Ocean Exploration Jar
On slips of paper, write down the ocean-related things that you would like to do when lockdown has been lifted and then place them in a jar for later exploration. I can’t wait to get back to the beach and into the sea so some of the things that I’m looking forward to include going for a snorkel, enjoying a long beach walk with my dog, exploring the local rockpools, going for a sea swim and doing beach clean-ups. What can’t you wait to do?
Write a letter to your favourite Ocean Hero telling them how they inspire you to protect the ocean. Follow the links to find out more about how a few of my Ocean Heroes are dedicating their lives to ocean conservation: Aaniyah Omardien (Beach Co-Op), Lewis Pugh (Lewis Pugh Foundation), Shamier Magmoet (Sea the Bigger Picture) and Sylvia Earle (Mission Blue). Who are your Ocean Heroes?
Facebook Profile for your Favourite Ocean Animal
This term the SeaStars created one for the Greenland Shark (Somniosus microcephalus), the Oldest Living Vertebrate, as part of their Awesome Ocean Animals term. This incredible shark lives beneath the Arctic polar ice and can reach lengths of up to 7 m, that’s bigger than a great white. With its slow metabolism and low tail-beat frequency it is one of the slowest swimmers in the sea. This easygoing lifestyle contributes to its extreme longevity that is estimated to be between 300 and 500 years, only reaching sexual maturity at approx. 150 years old. Using radioactive carbon dating of crystals within the lens of their eyes, scientists have estimated the oldest tested specimen to be 512 years old!
Label a Cuvier’s Beaked Whale
The deepest diver in our ocean. This incredible species holds the mammalian record for dive depth, a crushing 2 992 m! It can also hold its breath for an impressive 2 hours 17 min!! Only the males have teeth (two) so they feed by suction, preying on deep-sea fish and squid.
Create a Story-Telling Basket
Either source materials depicted in your favourite ocean storybook or fill your basket with ocean-inspired items that you can use to tell your own story. You can act out scenes from your favourite book or those from a short story about the ocean that you have written. Think about what the ocean means to you or about what some of the creatures might get up to beneath the waves.
Start an Ocean Journal
As part of the Guardians of the Deep Programme, all kids receive a personalised Ocean Journal in which they record their good ocean-minded choices, information about their favourite marine species, questions that they would like to ask me, cool ocean-related facts and any awesome things that they might have encountered (written or drawn). We then use the first part of the session to share our ideas and interests to inspire others to want to protect the ocean and the environment as a whole. While we are in lockdown, visits to the beach aren’t allowed so why not explore your garden instead (for those of you who have one)? There are so many interesting animals that live around us, why not use this time to learn more about them? Draw the leaves in the trees, the ladybugs navigating the grass blades, and the birds coming to drink or feed in your garden. You can also document the facts and reproduce the drawings that you find really interesting in books, or online, and have a sharing session with your family.
Fun and Useful Links
- STEM Works: For activities and articles about life under the sea
- National Geographic Education: With topics set from Kindergarten to Grade 12, kids can learn about ocean life, human interactions with the ocean, and the ocean’s physical geography
- Coral Watch: Lesson plans covering a range of marine topics
- Reef Relief: Virtual marine science classroom lessons every Monday, Wednesday and Friday
- Nautilus Live: Explore the deep sea; discover strange and unique creatures and learn about the incredible ecosystems flourishing as a result of hydrothermal vents and whale falls
- Zooniverse: A collection of Citizen Science projects in which you can participate. Once you register, there are so many projects from which to choose. Count penguins in remote regions, listen to communicating manatees, examine belugas and count Weddell seals
The octopuses are one of the most cunning groups of marine animals. With three hearts, blue blood and the ability to squirt ink at predators, they are pretty incredible creatures. These animals are great escape artists and can change their colour and pattern allowing them to blend into their surroundings. By changing not only its colour and pattern, but also its behaviour and shape, the mimic octopus (Thaumoctopus mimicus) can transform itself into looking like 15 other species.
The blue whale (Balaenoptera musculus) is the biggest animal to have ever lived. With a heart weighing 181 kg, able to fit 5-6 adults snuggly within its walls, a weight of approx. 150 tonnes (21 African elephant bulls), a length of approx. 27 m, and being able to eat 3 600 kg of krill/day, the blue whale is the biggest animal ever to have lived. Records have been set at 200 tonnes and 33.5 m. There are 5 sub-species of this whale, the ones from the Antarctic being the biggest, and they can be easily spotted by their ginormous blow… 12 m high! Blue whales are listed as Endangered (EN) on the IUCN Red List but recent censuses show that their populations are increasing.
- The Peacock Mantis Shrimp as a Superhero (think about the superpowers your shrimp would have and give it a cool name)
These beautifully coloured arthropods have two raptorial appendages (modified forelegs, much like that of a praying mantis) on the front of their bodies that accelerate 50X faster than humans can blink!! In less than 1/3000 of a second these incredible animals can strike their prey with 1 500 Newtons of force. These appendages move with such astonishing speed that the water around them boils in a process known as supercavitation. The force of the cavitation bubbles collapsing cause a shockwave that will kill its prey even if the mantis shrimp misses its punch. Sonoluminescence, in the form of small bursts of light, is also produced from the collapsing cavitation bubbles which reach temperatures of over 4 700 C (the surface temperature of the sun is estimated to be 5 500 C)!
- A Shark’s Day at the Beach (Comic Strip)
During Term 3, the Raggies were learning about Ocean Coexistence so we kicked off with the Shark Spotters Programme. Not only are the Shark Spotters an innovative and uniquely South African initiative, acting as an early warning system, they also carry out some very cool research. The Spotters act to minimise negative human/shark interactions through their spotting and flag system, by educating the public to #besharksmart and by deploying an eco-friendly shark barrier at one of our local beaches, Fish Hoek. What do you think a day at the beach would be like for sharks?
Try and come up with your own ideas too, like designing a new seashore species (think about where the animal/plant will live and what adaptations it will need to survive). Why not make an ocean-themed picture frame or see how many different marine animals you can make out of only toilet rolls. How about staging your own ocean play with homemade shadow puppets or inventing new games? I would love to hear from you and see your awesome creations. If you have any questions for me, send me an email at email@example.com and if you’d like your ideas and artwork shared with the Guardians community, you can either send me an email at the address above or post on the Guardians Facebook Page.
Explore. Dream. Discover.