Outing #7: Under the Sea

Dry Tortugas National Park, Florida, USA

EXPLORE

After our introduction at the Shedd yesterday, we decided to continue learning about the diverse, but delicate, coral reefs. These underwater ecosystems grow in warm, shallow waters such as the Florida Keys. To get a feel for these undersea wonderlands, we visited Dry Tortugas National Park.

Start by finding the park on a map—it’s about 70 miles west of Key West. Personally, I’d never heard of this park, and I was a ranger for the National Park Service! But, now I totally want to go.

Then, watch this Coral Reefs 101 video from National Geographic to get a sense for how the reefs work and what lives there.

Use Google’s Hidden Worlds of the National Parks interactive website to explore Dry Tortugas National Park with one of their interpretive rangers. (My park was cool, but I didn’t get to do underwater interpretive tours!)

If you want to see more coral reefs in the Florida Keys, including a coral nursery and shipwreck, check out these virtual dives.

DISCUSS

  • Coral reefs are some of the most diverse places on Earth. What are your favorite creatures that live in coral reefs?

  • Why do you think that coral reefs are so diverse?

  • What forces are threatening coral reefs? What do you think that we could do to help protect and restore coral reefs?

DO

Practice your understanding of the marine food web with this simple interactive from Queensland Museum.

Complete the Dry Tortuga’s Junior Ranger book.

Finally, make your own egg carton coral reef (activity courtesy of NOAA) for the tropical fish you created yesterday.

Can’t get enough underwater-themed activities? NPS also created an Underwater Explorers activity guide highlighting aquatic ecosystems around the US.

SHARE

Post your egg carton coral and suggestions for protecting reefs in the comments below, via Facebook, or by email!

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