Idea for Use in the Classroom

Begin exploring life in the Gulf of Mexico by characterizing the different habitats featured on the infographic using the text and illustrations. As a class, outline examples of how abiotic and biotic factors within one habitat may interact with another. Next, assign one featured species to each student to predict the species’ niche based on the information provided. Students can perform outside research to confirm their predictions and learn more. Have students share their findings and then build a food web representing the Gulf ecosystem using as many researched species as possible.

Focus on the Deepwater Horizon oil spill by using the inset map to understand the spread of the spill and by reviewing the text. Prompt students to predict how the oil spill might have immediately impacted each of their respective species given their species’ niche. Challenge students to describe how negative impacts to their species could affect other organisms within the ecosystem using the class food web to support their claims. 

Broaden understanding of the spill’s impacts by directing student groups to research how each habitat has been affected since the spill, and what long-term effects are predicted. As a class, discuss why it may be difficult to assess the damage and accurately predict effects within some habitats and not others. Revisit the interactions between habitats to highlight how damage to one habitat can impact others. Finally, propose solutions to aid the recovery of the Gulf and protect it from future harm. Encourage students to develop solutions at governmental and personal levels.

 

Noun

all the different kinds of living organisms within a given area.

coastal
Adjective

relating to the land near a shore.

coastline
Noun

outer boundary of a shore.

Noun

community and interactions of living and nonliving things in an area.

Noun

portion of an ocean or sea that penetrates land.

marine
Adjective

having to do with the ocean.

oil spill
Noun

accidental release of petroleum products into a body of water, either by an oil tanker or an offshore oil rig.

species
Noun

group of similar organisms that can reproduce with each other.

wildlife
Noun

organisms living in a natural environment.

Noun

area separated from others by artificial or natural divisions.