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oh where have all the fish gone? Oh where oh where can they be?
| You will focus on 12 different
species of fish and shellfish and see how overfishing and some other
environmental factors have impacted these individual populations.
Using colors (blue, orange, red, yellow, brown and green) and shape
(plain and peanut) combinations of M&MÕs you will establish your own
community of fish and then role-play different scenarios that depict
fishing practices by eating or discarding certain M&MÕs. Your class
should be able to see how certain species of fish are targeted and
more aggressively fished than others by noticing a decline of certain
type of fish in their pool of M&MÕs
description or introduction
The scientific principles
that the activity is founded on.
|The activity revolves around
the issues concerning overfishing and marine environment conservation.
While marine sanctuaries have been established in some places around
the world, there are currently few laws or regulations protecting
populations of fish under severe survival stress. Despite the fact
that there are minimum size requirements for the sale and trade of
juvenile fish, fisherman are not penalized for the amount of bycatch
that they haul in. Bycatch is usually in the form of undesired fish
or fish too small to for the fishermen to legally keep, so they dump
them (usually dead or injured) back into the sea when their survival
rate has been greatly compromised. The overall goal is to raise the
awareness of our society to the threats and other dangers we pose
to certain fish populations and the stability of the oceanÕs environment.
Some important background information must be supplied in order
to understand and complete this activity. Teachers must also have
some knowledge of marine biology and accompanying concepts which
will better prepare them to field questions from their students
that may deviate from this subject. One must be able to decipher
which fish populations are in peril (category 1) and which ones
are still relatively stable (category 2). For this activity you
will be using 12 different types of fish to represent these two
Category 1 (Peanut M&MÕs): Over fished and threatened species of
fish. Swordfish and Marlins (Blue): These large and impressive fish
are widely hunted for sport fishing and have become over fished
and depleted in the Atlantic ocean. Fishing for these fish produces
high bycatch because they are caught on long lines that contain
thousands of hooks or in long drift nets that consequently catch
many other unwanted species of fish and marine life. Orange Roughy
(Orange): Most Orange Roughy come from deep waters off New Zealand
and Australia. Their populations have been greatly depleted and
will require many years to recover because of their slow growth
and maturity rate. Orange Roughies can take up to 20 years to reach
spawning age and live to be more than 100 years old. Lobsters and
Shrimp (Red): In and around the U.S. lobster and shrimp populations
are over-fished. The main concern with shrimping is the large amount
of bycatch. For every pound of shrimp caught, an average of seven
pounds of other marine life is killed and shoveled overboard. The
sea floor habitat is also severely disturbed by the trolling nets
that are used to catch shrimp. Salmon (Brown): Healthy populations
still exist in Alaska, but elsewhere they are in severe danger.
Several salmon populations are listed as endangered, and many are
extinct. Salmon farming is also detrimental to the environment because
of large volumes of pollutants that it adds to the water. Scallops
(Yellow): Atlantic Sea scallops are over-fished and depleted. Bay
scallops are in danger because their environment is compromised
by algal blooms. Dredging for scallops is very harmful and disrupts
habitat on the ocean floor. Tunas (Green): Bluefin Tuna are severely
over-fished and Albacore, Yellowfin and Bigeyes are declining in
some regions. Bycatch is also a concern because marine mammals like
dolphins and porpoises are also caught in the nets. This is because
the tuna and dolphins tend to be found together and fishermen mistakenly
set their nets on the dolphins.
Category 2 (Plain M&MÕs): Relatively stable fish populations. Some
of these fish are not as popular or valuable as Category 1 fish.
Striped Bass (Brown): Abundant. Half of all fish sold are now farm
raised. Striped bass farms tend to be relatively benign where water
pollution is controlled and population sizes are stable. Mackerels
(Green): Most Mackerels are in the safe zone. King, Atlantic and
Spanish Mackerels have been over-fished in the past, but good management
has improved population sizes. Squid (Orange): Squids are abundant
because of their ability to mature fast. They also live in a wide
range of habitats and can function under variable conditions. Crabs
(Red): There are very large and diverse groups in many regions.
Some suffer from water pollution and Alaskan King crab has been
over-fished.. Overall crabs are in good shape. Clams and Oysters
(Yellow): Many clams and oysters are farm raised which help to regulate
the population and maintain habitat because they are grown in racks..
Catching wild shellfish is a concern because the ocean floor is
disrupted by nets and dredges. Dolphinfish (Blue): aka Mahimahi
or Dorado. Widespread and abundant. The dolphinfish is fast growing
and highly fecund.
for the activity
|I was inspired to address this topic
because of an exhibit on over-fishing that I saw at the Monterey Bay
Aquarium. They have an elaborate fact filled set up that really caught
my attention. I thought that I could help make a difference by creating
an activity that raised the awareness of children to the plight of
certain fish populations and the marine ecosystem. My facts and information
were taken from the journal Audubon, "The Audubon Guide to Seafood"
May-June 1998., and Encyclopedia of Fishes, Paxton, Dr. John R., and
Eschmeyer, Dr. William N. et al. Academic Press San Diego CA. 1995.
time to do the activity
|Give students a better understanding
of over-fishing and other current issues concerning the stability
of marine ecology.
|Get students thinking on a higher
level that makes them more aware of how their actions directly and
indirectly effect global concerns.
|Show students that it is not to
late to make an effort to implement changes and reduce that rate at
which we consume the products and byproducts of the ocean.
Science Education Standards. (NSES)
content standards that this lesson plan covers:
|NSES Grades K-4 Content Standard
A, Science as Inquiry: This acvtivity has students doing inquiry based
science. They are presented with a topic and activity that involves
high level thinking and a hands-on activity that forces the student
to visually identify and make connections between the activity and
lecture based material.
|NSES Grades K-4 Content Standard
C, Life cycles of organisms and their environment. This activity shows
the student the importance maintaining an organisms population and
environment to ensure its survival well in to the future. Through
this activity the student can see how changes in the ecosystem and
food-web can have dramatic effects on the organisms ability to function
Materials needed for this exercise are as follows:
- Paper and Colored Pencils to make Fish Cards.
- One 1lb. bag of Plain M&MÕs.
- One 1lb. bag of Peanut M&MÕs.
- Paper plates or bowls in which to place your populations of
- Plastic spoons for each student.
- Audubon Guide to Seafood. (See or contact Dr. Katrina Mangin
for a copy of this material) Department of Ecology & Evolutionary
Biology BSW 310 University of Arizona Tucson, AZ 85721 Phone:
520-626-5076 Fax: 520-621-7630
- Pictures obtained from the Encyclopedia of Fishes or Audubon
Guide to Seafood of each fish species represented in this activity.
- A key that identifies which color and shape of M&M corresponds
to each fish species.
- A data table which will be used to record and track the population
sizes and other pertinent information for these 12 fish species.
|To prepare for this exercise
the teacher will need to begin with a short lecture that gives an
overview of what the activity entails and get and inquiry from the
students as to what they think are important issues in marine conservation
and over-fishing practices. The teacher should also include in the
lecture highlights and important topics in marine ecology. Discussing
ecosystem and food-web structures, population dynamics, and various
fishing practices will give the students a better understanding of
this material and allow them to make connections to other related
subjects. For the activity, start by having the class draw and color
the twelve fish described as a set of flash cards or just visual reference.
The teacher should make and distribute the populations of fishes (M&MÕs)
for the students to work with to ensure count accuracy. Each population
should be made up of at least twice as many Category 2 fish as there
are Category 1 fish to represent the difference in population size
between these two categories.
Procedure for the Activity
|Have class draw and color the
12 fish depicted in this activity and display them on the chalk board.
Break the students up into groups of four. Have them tally how many
and which kind of fish are in their population. Allow them to eat
or discard at random three M&Ms from the population (This can be accomplished
by having the students use a spoon to "catch" their fish). For every
two of the same kind the group collectively removes from Category
1 they should add one. For every one removed from Category 2 they
should replace it with equal amounts. Have the students tally the
population and record it. Repeat this process ten times and take a
final tally from each group. Write the beginning totals and the end
totals on the board to refer to and compare initial and final population
sizes. Discuss the results with the class and invite ideas and the
students conjectures from the activity. Evaluation/Assessment: The
teacher may want to asses what the students have learned by preparing
a quiz (short-answer and true/false) and/or having each student write
a short essay describing what they have learned by doing this activity.
work sheets, additional web pages
for discussion or conclusion
|What kind of differences do
you see in the population sizes?
|Did anyone prefer one color/shape
of M&M to another? How would your preference relate to preferences
in the fishing community?
|Can depleted populations of
fish recover from over-fishing? If so, how? If not, why?
|What will happen if we continue
to take more fish than are replaced?
|If current fishing practices
continue to deplete fish populations faster than they can recover
we will soon see a severe crash in the entire marine food chain. Why
might the loss of a couple of fish species effect entire communities
of marine life? You can make a difference by getting involved with
preservations groups within your community. "Think Globaly, Act Locally".
activities which relate to and extend the complexity of the experiment.
Other activities may include having the students alter their eating
habits for a week. Have them minimize or eliminate foods from their
diet that they consider to be non-essential or luxury foods. This
will show them that there are alternatives and adjustments they
can make to thier diet that are just as satisfying as their previous
diet. They can relate this to people cutting back in the amounts
of threatened fish that they eat and look for sensable alternatives.
Alert students to the vast amount of conservation groups and other
organization that are involved with habitat and species preservation.
You may even want to have the class start it's own conservation
group and have them set goals and ideas for preserving the school
A web address with information on the topic of the activity.
|Biology in Progile: A Guide
to the Many Branches of Biology, by Peter N. Cambell. Pergamon