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ACTIVITY: Eat or Be Eaten!

NGSS Science and Engineering Practices:

NGSS Crosscutting Concepts:

NGSS Disciplinary Core Ideas:

The activity below draws from the content in the page Survival in the Open Ocean.


Some animals are better equipped to survive in certain habitats than others.


Why are some animals able to survive better than others in specific habitats?

Guiding Questions:



Be a part of the chaos that is survival in the ocean! Explore the abilities of organisms’ survival in various ocean zones. Learn that some organisms to survive well, others less well, and some not at all in a given environment.


  • ID Cards
  • Three game scripts
  • Green, Yellow, Red game board markers 
    (These colors represent place on a game "board". If you do not have these, this activity can be done in place with standing, sitting in a chair, sitting on the ground)



  • To encourage active participation, movements will be created that are related to species structure and function the open ocean. Students can create gestures to represent each animal during the game (allow them to practice):


a. Tiger Shark: Hand on top of head to represent dorsal fin.

b. Yellowfin Tuna: Hands to side close to form a torpedo-shaped body.

c. Humpback Whale: Arms out to side to represent giant pectoral fins.

d. Mackerel: Four people link arms to act as a school of fish.

e. Green Sea Turtle: Hands on hips with elbows back to represent shell.

f. Squid: Cup hands in circles around each eye to represent large eyes for   life in the disphotic zone.


  1. Distribute creature ID cards.
  2. Create your own animal dance that represents your creature. Learn the information
  3. Follow along with script #1.


Open Ocean Zones Interactive Game

Play the interactive game below to further explore the creatures that live in the zones of the open ocean!

Note: This game requires flash. If you cannot view the entire interactive on your screen, press Ctrl-Minus (-) on a PC and Command-Option-Minus (-) on a Mac to zoom out.

Activity Questions:

  1. Which open ocean animal would you rather be? Why?
  2. How might you be able to group these animals based on their structures?
  3. Why did the winning animal get across the finish line? What are some of the features it has that helps it survive in the open ocean?
  4. What may be some other threats?

Table of Contents:

Exploring Our Fluid Earth, a product of the Curriculum Research & Development Group (CRDG), College of Education. University of Hawaii, 2011. This document may be freely reproduced and distributed for non-profit educational purposes.