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The oceans are full of life!
How many creatures can you think of that live in the ocean or on the beach? There are a lot of them once you start to think about it! Keep reading to find out more about the ocean and some of the life that can be found there.
Project 1: Observing the Seashore - Go on a Scavenger Hunt
The next time you visit the seashore, be a beach scavenger! You will see lots of different and very interesting plants and animals. Count them as you go to see how many different forms of life you can spot. A scavenger has to be very thorough and look in every place he can think of, so here is a guide to help you as you go.
Above the sand on the beach among the rocks, drifted logs, grass, and other plants, look for these:
On the beach, walk around on the sand that stretches along the ocean and look for these:
Along the shore's edge, where the water and waves first touch the sand of the beach, look for these:
When you get home from your seashore exploration, print out this coloring page and color the animals and other things that you saw.
Project 2: Dry Sand or Wet Sand?
Sometimes sand is perfect for making sandcastles and at other times it just falls apart. When is sand the best for making sandcastles? Do this experiment to find out!
When the tub was tilted back and forth with the dry sand in it, the grains of sand easily moved past each other. But when you added water, the water surrounded each grain of sand and the surface tension of the water caused the grains of sand to stick to each other making the sand more solid, kind of like clay. That is why the seashell left an impression in the sand. Sand that is damp like this works great for making sandcastles because it holds together so well.
When you added more water to the already damp sand, the sand became saturated. Saturated means that it has already soaked up as much water as it can hold. That made the the grains of sand separate from each other and they could no longer stick together. This time when you pressed your shell in, did the sand keep the shell's shape? Probably not. Sand that is too wet can't hold the shape of an object since the sand grains can't stick to each other. That means that sand that is too wet doesn't work well for sandcastles because the grains cannot stick to each other.
Project 3: Salt From the Sea
Have you ever accidentally gotten ocean water in your mouth? If you have, you know that ocean water is very salty! Water evaporates from the ocean every day, but what happens to the salt in seawater after the water has evaporated? Do this experiment to find out!
After the water has evaporated, you should see tiny salt crystals where the seawater used to be. (The food coloring stuck to the salt crystals, making them easier to see.) When the water evaporated, the salt got left behind. The same thing happens to the saltwater in the oceans. However, fresh water is constantly being added back to the oceans through rivers and rainfall. If fresh water was not being added to the oceans, the oceans would slowly become saltier as the water evaporates.
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Teach About the Tides
At different times of the day, there is a noticeable difference in how far the water comes up on the beach. These are called tides. Tides are caused by the gravitational pull that the moon and sun have on the earth. The sun does not have as strong of a pull on the oceans as the moon does because it is so far from Earth. Tides are also affected be the rotation of the earth. When the ocean's waves reach high onto the shore and cover most of the beach, it is high tide. When the ocean's waves are very low and most of the beach is left uncovered, it is low tide. The high and low tides create a space on the shore called the intertidal zone. At high tide, the area is covered in water. At low tide, the area is an exposed rocky or sandy beach.
Look for Life on the Beach
Two great places to look for plants and animals on the seashore are the strandline and tide pools. The strandline is the farthest place the water reaches on the beach at high tide. Plants, animals, and other items in the ocean often get stranded there because the water is not strong enough to pull them back out to sea. Tide pools form when the high tide comes in and the holes in the rock are filled with salty ocean water. Tide pools provide sheltered places for many sea creatures that were washed in with the tide. Both of these places are best to observe during low tide. And since the ocean brings in new items and washes old items back into the sea, what you can find in the strandline and tide pools changes with each tide! The next section describes the four tidal zones and what kind of life to look for in each zone.
To help your child observe the seashore, use this coloring page as a scavenger hunt.
For more about tide pools and the animals that live in them, visit our Tide Pools Teaching Tip.
The Zones Where Land and Water Meet
This visual guide is helpful for explaining the zones to children.