Prehistoric Seas


With Sharks, Rays, Turtles, and Prehistoric Seas we open a new door in the study of the ocean. We know some of these species have been around for millions of years and are now declining.
How could they have survived that long?
What threats and challenges do sharks face today?

Shastasaurus by NTamura

Polar Seas


As summer approaches and the days grow longer in the Arctic Winter, winter is on its way in Antarctica. Did you know that the polar regions control the Earth’s climate and oceans currents? Without them, the Earth would be too hot for life to exist. We will learn about the amazing adaptations of polar life to extremes of cold, wind, light, and darkness.

Subtopics include: Arctic and Antarctic Cetaceans, Penguins and other Polar Birds, Arctic and Antarctic Pinnipeds, Polar Bears, Polar Explorers, Megnetosphere, Aurora Borealis and Australis, Native Cultures, Climate Change

Emperor Penguin — Photo from Cool Antarctica

Deep Ocean


For centuries, sailors crossed the oceans but never had a clue what lay below them on the ocean floor. Most thought that there was no life on the sea floor because of the tremendous water pressure and the cold temperature. With submersibles, we have found a new world of unusual creatures, giant worms, and fish with enormous teeth.

Subtopics include: Zones of Light, Creatures of the Deep/Adaptations, Explorations, Submersibles, Galapagos Deep Sea Volcanos, Mapping the Sea Floor, Chemosynthesis, Bioluminescence

Anglerfish photo from

Marine Mammals


Marine mammals inhabit all of the Earth’s oceans. Because we are mammals, we share many similarities, yet we live in completely opposite worlds. As you will learn, there are 5 different groups of marine mammals: cetaceans (whales, dolphins, porpoises), pinnipeds (seals, sea lions, walruses), sirenians (manatees, dugongs), sea otters and polar bears. Marine mammals have an amazing variety of adaptations that enable them to thrive in the sea.

Southern Sea Otter Mom and Pup — Photo from Monterey Bay Aquarium

Wave Zone


Where the land meets the sea. It is a place of tremendous energy exchange. Waves transfer the wind’s energy to the shore, thus eroding the rock and creating sand. Waves deposit sand on the beach and wash it away and redeposit the sand forming sand bars.

Here too, the invisible pull of the moon and the sun becomes noticeable on the earth by the rise and fall of the daily tides.
The abundant life of the wave zone is highly adapted to the force of the crashing waves and the constant change between wet and dry, hot and cold, exposed and submerged, which are all conditions of the intertidal environment.

Tide Pools, Shaw’s Cove, Laguna Beach — Photo by Lenny Cavaluzzi III, Trover



A wetland is an area of land that is covered by fresh or saltwater part or most of a year. From creeks to rivers, salt marshes and bayous, wetlands connect every watershed to the ocean. Some wetlands are landlocked, but many stretch along much of the world’s coastlines, connecting rivers, lakes and oceans. They are diverse habitats that are essential to ecosystems, environmental health and sustainability worldwide. All communities (plant, animal and human) depend on the various services wetlands provide, including: food, shelter, flood control, the filtering of sediment and pollution, rest stops for migrating birds and nurseries for diverse aquatic and land species. They are an essential part of a healthy biosphere that will require sustained effort to reclaim, preserve and protect for future generations.

What kind of wetlands or wetland organisms do you have in your community?

Subtopics: Watershed Geology | Wetland Birds and Migration | Wetland Fish | Wetland Plants | Adaptations of Anadromous Fish (Salmon and Steelhead) | Invertebrates of the Wetlands (mollusks, crustaceans, arthropods, Annelida) | Bay Area Wetlands (Marshes/Estuaries/Riparian) | Critters of the Wetlands (vertebrates) | Native Americans and Wetlands (Ohlone)

“Brown Pelican in breeding plumage”  — Photo by Traveler Terry F., TripAdvisor

Coral Reefs


We set sail for warm, tropical waters that are found at and near the earth’s equator. Here the sun’s intensity warms the sea and provides the light necessary or reef building corals to thrive.

Coral reefs are similar to the tropical rain forests of land. They are home to a diverse population of colorful and unique life. The plants and animals are highly adapted to the living conditions of the tropical seas. Their size, body shape, colors and patterns are adaptations for survival. Many species have a symbiotic relationship with one another…(not all).