Life in the Ocean

Life in the Ocean

Watch this brief, video picture of practice that captures everyday classroom life and provides real-life examples of how students learn and think about ocean topics.


3 - 8


Biology, Earth Science, Ecology, Oceanography

Students develop ideas about living things at an early age, but most of their ideas are based on experiences with land plants and animals. Students learn that plants are producers, and through photosynthesis, they make their own food. Sunlight is a key part of the process, so plants need sunlight in order to survive. Students also learn that areas rich with vegetation and food sources are also rich with animal life. Applying these ideas to marine environments may be new to students, and some students may struggle with these concepts. They may be confused about where the plants, or producers, are located in the ocean. They may recognize coastal vegetation such as grasses but not recognize phytoplankton and algae that live in the open ocean. How can students' previous knowledge about land flora and fauna affect how they will learn and understand marine plant and animal life?

Watch this video of 5th grade students in Laguna Niguel, California—a coastal community. The purpose of this classroom video is to see students learn about biodiversity found in the euphotic zone and to listen to their questions about the topic.

For additional classroom context, video analysis, and reflection opportunities, read the Picture of Practice page for "Life in the Ocean" in the One Ocean Environmental Literacy Teacher Guide, page 46.

Media Credits

The audio, illustrations, photos, and videos are credited beneath the media asset, except for promotional images, which generally link to another page that contains the media credit. The Rights Holder for media is the person or group credited.

E. Tucker Hirsh, M.S. Environmental Science and Management
Tara G. Treiber, B.A. Natural Sciences: Ecology
L. Jeremy Richardson, Ph.D. Physics
Marcia S. Matz, M.A. Design
Meghan E. Marrero, Ed.D. Science Education
Amanda P. Jaksha, M.Ed. Teaching and Teacher Education
Rachel J. Fisher, M.S. Biology
Cindy Olson
Julie Brown, National Geographic Society
Kristen Dell, National Geographic Society
Lindsey Mohan, Ph.D.
Chelsea Zillmer
Educator Reviewers
Catie Boarts, Heal the Bay
Meghan E. Marrero, New York State Marine Education Association (NYSMEA)
Tara G. Treiber, Heal the Bay
Last Updated

September 27, 2022

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