Our virtual Ocean Week at the Randall celebrates the amazing creatures and unique environments of the marine world! Dive into the habitats below to explore the fun with crafts and activities you can download and do at home.
The Open Ocean is deep and wide. It has water in all directions wherever you look. It is not near any land. Its deepest parts are deeper than the highest mountains on earth. Its widest parts touch every continent, and there are lots of animals that live here.
Sunlight can only reach from the surface of the ocean to around 650 feet deep. Because this Sunlight Zone is the zone most exposed to light, there are thousands of animals that live here. They include whales and dolphins, sea turtles, most sharks, sea jellies and plankton.
Going deeper, the Twilight Zone reaches down to around 3,300 feet. Animals living here have to adapt to life in near darkness. Some animals like the lantern fish have really big eyes and make their own light which is called bioluminescence. Other animals living here are the wolf eel with powerful jaws and canine teeth and swordfish that can swim fifty miles an hour!
Descending into the depths of the ocean, the Midnight Zone extends to 13,000 feet. It is pitch black here. Only animals that make their own light can be seen here. These cold, dark waters include the elusive giant squid, various octopuses, bioluminescent sea jellies, angler fish and hatchet fish. Sperm whales sometimes dive down to this zone to hunt for giant squid; afterwards, they return to shallower waters.
The deepest layer, the Abyss, reaches from 13,000 feet down to the ocean floor. It includes water found in deep trenches. Many creatures have adapted to complete darkness and some have no eyes at all. Heat from the center of the earth escapes through openings in the ocean floor called Hydrothermal vents. Animals who live down here include smaller squid, tube worms, sea urchins and small, shelled animals called sea spiders.
The Open Ocean is an amazing place.
Let’s dive in deep to meet some of the animals who make the Open Ocean their home.
Crafts and Activities
Who Eats Who –
Make Your Own Food Web
Find out how we are all connected and make your own food web! Download the California Coast Food Web PDF and watch this video to learn about the California Food Web.
Blue Whale Craft
Make a blue whale out of simple paper materials.
Life at the coast is very dependent on the tides. Tides are the movements of the ocean. Each day, the water rushes towards the shore and recedes back later in the day. Intertidal zones are generally rocky. The rocks hold the ocean water in pools that allow us an amazing glimpse at intertidal life in what we call tide pools.
Animals that live in the intertidal zones have to be really tough. They are forced to hang on fiercely when waves crash over them in high tides, and they also must be able to close up tight when the hot sun is blazing down during low tides.
When the tide is out, you can visit low tide areas and see how these animals protect themselves from the sun and from hungry predators like seagulls.
Animals in tide pools are inventive in how they cling to life and face the challenges of this harsh and rapidly changing watery environment. Eels and sculpin fish hide in crevices. Purple urchins carve holes into rock for little cubby holes. Mussels attach themselves to rocks with byssal threads. Anemones cover themselves with pebbles, and sea stars stick to rocks with amazing suction feet.
Let’s wade into tide pools to learn more!
Crafts and Activities
Nudibranchs are sea slugs. These colorful animals are often seen at low tide in the tide pools. The frilly parts on a Nudibranch are actually gills, which is how they breathe underwater. Watch these gorgeous sea slugs dancing!
These areas are important for many reasons:
- Coastal wetlands protect areas from flooding by slowing water down with thick plant life.
- Wetlands filter chemicals and mud from rivers before water reaches the ocean.
- Migrating birds flying south for the winter stop in coastal wetlands along the way to eat and sleep during their long journey.
- Maybe most importantly, wetlands provide thick cover and calm water for many species of fish and birds and other animals to raise their babies.
In the past, wetlands were considered swamps and thought to be unhealthy places. Here in California, many, many wetlands were destroyed by people filling them in with dirt and concrete. Today, we know better and understand how important it is to conserve and protect wetlands, both for humans and animals.
Let’s splash into the Wetlands to learn more about who lives here!
Crafts and Activities
Sand Dabs: Get Crafty with Sarah
Explore how Sand Dabs camouflage. Design your own sandy habitat and help your Sand Dabs hide!
San Francisco Bay
In San Francisco we are so lucky to live next to a magnificent Bay! A bay is water that is both salty and fresh water mixed together. Our bay is fed freshwater from snowpack melt running off the Sierra Nevada Mountains through the Sacramento, San Joachin and Napa rivers. The Pacific Ocean brings salt water into the Bay with tides. This 1600 square mile stretch of water is the largest Pacific bay (also known as an estuary) in both North and South America!
San Francisco Bay is an important nursery for Dungeness crab, and other animals like halibut and salmon.
Bat rays, harbor seals, sea lions, Pacific sea nettles (a type of sea jelly,) green moray eels, and rockfish are just some of the many inhabitants of the Bay.
The Bay is also a rest stop for migrating birds that are traveling along the Pacific Flyway. Many birds travel from upper regions in Canada down to Mexico and South America on the Flyway, and the San Francisco Bay is a lovely and necessary stop along the way.
Let’s bound into the Bay to learn more!
San Francisco Bay Crafts and Activities
Make your own Bay Diorama with pipefish and eelgrass
The Bat Ray
Watch a Bat Ray swim. They have a venomous spine at their tails, but are not considered dangerous to humans
- Ocean Animals for Kids. This is a fun and informative video that features sea life of the Pacific Ocean including California Sea Lions, Sea Otters, Blue Whales and more!
- NOAA Sharks and Rays Coloring Book – Download this fun coloring book to discover the sharks and rays of the Channel Islands off the coast of Southern California. This 20-page coloring book has species descriptions, samples of natural colors, a matching activity and 11 x 17 coloring poster.
- “The Great White Shark Song”. A group of rowdy sea lions sing a funny tribute to their old nemesis, the great white shark.
- NOAA Earth is Blue videos. Dive in without getting wet! You are the ocean diver in these cool 3D videos – especially the sea lion one. And check out the activity too. Click and enjoy.
- Check out this cool Sea Otter Puppet made from a lunch bag from our friends at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Tip: glue the head on the bottom of the bag so that when you put your hand inside the bag you can pretend to open and close its mouth!
- The Largest Migration on Earth… is in the ocean! NPR’s Science Friday tells and shows us that tiny swimmers – jellies, crustaceans and fish – stir up the seas.
- Ocean’s Garbage in the Mariana Trench. Recycling makes a difference – this beautiful but sad video shows that the plastics we use have been found in the deepest part of the ocean (6.8 miles down.)
- Watch the Decorator Crab dress up! A fun video “fashion show” about the wide variety of things found on different crabs.
- Porpoises return to San Francisco Bay! Join the party – this video shows how excited everyone is that porpoises can be seen swimming in San Francisco Bay again.
- Cool Coloring Pages from The Monterey Bay Aquarium. Get to know our local sea creatures by making your own coloring book – just print, color and clip together!
- Blue whales in record numbers. Read this article from NOAA about the (possible) record number of Blue Whales seen around the Farallones Islands just outside the Golden Gate Bridge.
- Deep Ocean: 10 Hours of Relaxing Oceanscapes. Get to know the sights and sounds of the deep ocean with this relaxing and meditative video created by BBC Earth.
- Bioluminescent Jellyfish (and more). Did you know that some sea animals can make their own light? Check out these cool videos!
- Under the Sea: Ocean Animal Moves. A video from Discovery Education showing the many ways sea creatures move through the water.
- Habitats: Oceans. Another cool video from Discovery Education about what makes the ocean such a rich, beautiful and interesting habitat.
- Exploring the Coral Reef: Learn about Oceans for Kids. This is a great video from FreeSchool about coral reefs and why they are important.
- A Salt Harvest Mouse Eating Pickleweed. Watch this video to see the mouse feeding on its favorite food: pickleweed!
- The Salt Harvest Mouse Plight. An article about the life and times of this adorable creature that lives no where else!
- Fiddler Crabs at home in the muddy shores of the wetlands. Watch this video and see if you can find the fiddler crabs moving in the pickle weed.
- Local Salmon Season is in full swing. Here’s a recent article about Bay Area King Salmon fishing that includes 3 recipes on how to prepare this seasonal delicacy at home.
Fun Fact: Anchovies are possibly the most common fish in the San Francisco Bay. You can see them jumping in shallow water at the edge of the Bay.
- Anchovies Swimming. A series of quick videos of schools of anchovies swimming.
- Saving anchovies with plant-based omega oils. An article about how farmers are saving anchovies by creating an oil from plants so that we do not need to fish as much.
- Meet the Northern Anchovy at Monterey Bay Aquarium. Read about these tiny fish that supply supper for many other animals and flourish in Monterey Bay.
- No Whale Tale: Anchovy Feeding Frenzy is a Mirage . This article explains how the number of Anchovies is getting smaller because of Climate Change.