The ocean is an amazing environment that can spark the interest and imagination of children of all ages. Home to many plants and animals that help regulate global weather patterns, its presence has an incredible power to amaze.
It also houses some of the largest creatures on earth, like sperm whales. Here are some preschool ocean facts that will get your students excited about marine life!
1. The Great Barrier Reef
The Great Barrier Reef is one of the world’s most diverse natural systems, boasting thousands of marine creatures from its reefs and sea-grass beds – from over 1,500 fish species and six out of the seven types of coral, to sea turtles that have existed since prehistoric times.
The Great Barrier Reef can be seen from space, stretching over 2,300 kilometers along Australia’s coastline and comprising of more than 3,000 individual reefs, coral cays and tropical islands. Home to over 900 marine species and designated a protected area due to its economic, social and iconic value – it truly represents one of the planet’s priceless treasures!
Scientists also visit the Great Barrier Reef due to its abundant corals and marine life, making it an ideal research site. You may discover anything from dwarf goby fish smaller than your thumbnail to whale sharks larger than your car in this ecosystem.
The Great Barrier Reef is relatively young geologically speaking, beginning to form only around 6,000 years ago as sea levels rose after the last glacial period. First fringing reefs emerged, then platform and ribbon reefs. Now, as part of a continuous lagoon system, its diversity makes up its entire composition; making the Great Barrier Reef not only one of the world’s largest coral reef systems but also one of its most diverse systems.
Water covers more than 70% of Earth’s surface, so it should come as no surprise that many preschoolers want to learn all they can about bodies of water. Tides are among the most intriguing ocean facts; their rise and fall caused by gravity of moon, sun and Earth on rotating Earth are captivating to preschoolers and coastal areas experience two high and two low tides per day.
Tidal waves have an extended period, typically measured in hours between their crests and troughs. When the tide comes in, it brings salt water onto land while when it recedes it leaves behind seashells and driftwood as a reminder.
Not only does the moon and sun influence tide movements, but other factors also have an effect. These include factors like coastline shape and seabed features which determine how quickly or slowly tide rises or falls – for instance along a beach where there may only be slight differences between tide levels rising or falling and narrow, rocky inlets or bays where levels could change significantly more dramatically.
The tide also fluctuates with each season, with high and low tides occurring at different times throughout the month or year due to changes in moon and solar alignment with Earth; for instance, during a full moon there are usually higher tides than any other point during that month or year.
Tsunamis are gigantic ocean waves caused by disturbances at or near the sea floor such as earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, submarine slides or meteorite impacts that travel as fast as a commercial passenger jet and have devastating potential. Their destructive power can be immense.
Tsunamis can be caused by sudden displacement of water beneath the ocean floor, such as from an earthquake that displaces it rapidly along its course, creating massive underwater landslides which, when fast-moving along their paths, can unleash devastating tsunami waves into the sea.
When a tsunami approaches a coastline, it may appear to recede before suddenly collapsing onshore. This false sense of security can tempt many victims to step onto a beach just prior to its wave crest hitting. Unfortunately, many tsunami victims perish because they succumb to this temptation and venture onto it just prior to it hitting.
A tsunami is typically characterized by a powerful wall of water rushing inland with great speed and force, capable of creating massive destruction through either its crushing force when hitting land or displacement of debris such as cars and buildings. Tsunamis also can transport marine organisms like algae and fish from one side of the ocean to the other, disrupting local ecosystems.
The ocean is an immense place and constantly in motion. Water waves and tides may be visible signs of this movement, but there’s a lot more happening below the surface too – such as ocean currents forming like rivers that flow predictably along their routes – whether crossing short distances or traveling worldwide basins and circling globe. Currents play an essential role in ocean life – transporting heat from equator to poles while dispensing oxygen, nutrients and reproductive cells to support marine life.
Additionally, these forces cause some of the deepest seafloor to rise and fall due to upwelling; this phenomenon sees cold, nutrient-rich waters from beneath the ocean’s bottom move up toward its surface bringing food sources for marine organisms and humans alike.
Ocean currents are determined by various forces, such as wind patterns, the Earth’s rotation, and ocean basin shapes. Currents can either be warm or cold depending on where they reside in their current path; furthermore, current speeds vary with locations; for instance, Gulf Stream currents have been known to travel at up to 5.6 miles per hour!
The ocean is home to an astoundingly vast amount of marine animals. There are over 225,000 known living species currently found within its waters and experts estimate there could be as many as 25 million more yet undiscovered!
Animals that call the ocean home include reptiles (such as sea turtles), crustaceans (such as shrimp, crabs and lobsters) and fish. There are also whales, dolphins, seals and sea lions found there – as well as numerous types of plants! These creatures and many more make the ocean their home.
Green algae, diatoms, dinoflagellates and kelp are just a few examples of organisms living in the ocean that use sunlight to produce their food source. Other examples are red and brown algae as well as echinoderms and hydroids which also call this region home.
Most aquatic plants thrive in shallow waters, while others reside deeper within coral reefs or even at depth.
Some land animals have evolved to spend most of their lives in the ocean, including seabirds. These birds feed on marine organisms before returning to the surface for breeding purposes. Their ability to hold their breath for extended periods allows them to keep diving deeper before finally coming up for air at the surface.
6. Water Temperature
Water temperature is an essential aspect of ocean habitat, affecting marine plants and aquatic animals’ metabolic rates and solubilities, including calcium carbonate and oxygen; in turn, this helps determine absorption rates for metal contaminants45. As it plays such a vital role in global ocean health, monitoring ocean temperatures closely is imperative; changes can have detrimental consequences.
Energy that affects water temperature comes mostly from sunlight, which is transferred through its albedo (the ability of a surface to reflect or absorb solar radiation) 46 to the surface layer of water and then results in daily fluctuations of surface water temperatures, although due to water’s huge heat capacity its overall average temperature remains fairly steady 53.
The ocean is a vast habitat, stretching across 70% of Earth’s surface and home to marine animals of many kinds – as well as being an endless source of inspiration and mystery for us humans! To help children gain insight into this incredible marine habitat, we have compiled these educational ocean facts for kids about coral reefs and more!