Exploring Coral Reefs: A Virtual Dive in the Bermuda Triangle
Coral reefs are some of the most diverse and complex ecosystems on Earth. Reefs face many stresses including those associated with climate change, pollution, over fishing, and damage caused by people. This introductory activity will allow students to explore the coral reef environment through a virtual dive. Students will discover how coral reefs are constructed, the amazing organisms that live in the reef environment, and where coral reefs are found today. This web page is designed for flexibility. Resources include a PowerPoint file that can be used as a group activity or can be viewed by individual students on computers. Students can answer a series of questions that will guide them during their exploration of reefs on the worksheet provided.
Students will learn about the role of biodiversity, oceanography and other factors that lead to the development of the coral reef ecosystem through this guided lesson. Students will learn important terms, identify organisms, and learn what it takes to make a healthy coral reef and where reefs are found today.
Context for Use
This activity was designed for any introductory general science or earth science students, including introductory university oceanography courses. The focus of this lesson is to provide students with a broad knowledge base on coral reefs. This exercise does not presume detailed knowledge of marine animal biology. Lesson duration: approximately 60 minutes. This activity is recommended to take place in a computer lab, however it could be easily adapted into a classroom presentation with the aid of a projector, or it could even be used as a homework assignment as long as the students have access to a networked computer.
This activity addresses the following National Science Education Standards:
- Content C (5-8) Life Science standards: "structure and function in living systems, populations and ecosystems, and diversity and adaptations of organisms."
- Content D (5-8) Earth and Space Science standards: "structure of the earth system."
- Content C (9-12) Life Science standards: "interdependence of organisms; matter, energy, and organization in living systems; and behavior of organisms."
- Content D (9-12) Earth and Space science: "energy in the earth system."
Description and Teaching Materials
- Download and print out this worksheet (Microsoft Word 69kB Mar5 08)
- Download PowerPoint file: virtual reef dive (PowerPoint 10.6MB Mar5 08)
- Download this quiz that can be used for either pre- or post- activity assessment. (Microsoft Word 32kB Mar5 08)
This activity creates a broad knowledge base for introductory students on coral reefs. The provided worksheet will help guide students through their investigation of coral reefs as a virtual dive presented in the PowerPoint presentation.
This activity would work best if each student had a computer allowing each student to explore coral reefs on their own. If individual computers are not available, this activity could be completed as a class by projecting the PowerPoint presentation.
Teaching Notes and Tips
It is beneficial to both teacher and students to have the worksheet printed out before the activity begins.
Although its volcano has long been extinct and eroded below today's sea level, Bermuda is a volcanic atoll. Here are links to other ERESE resources regaring atolls and sea mounts:
- Hotspots lesson: Theory and Plate Velocities by Jamie Russell
- Formation of Seamounts by Jamie Russell
- History of Seamounts that reach the sea surface by Jerry Winterer
References and Resources
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Reef Page
The Environmental Protection Agency's Reef page
Coral Reef Alliance's Reef Page
The United States Task Force's Reef Page
Eric Hiatt's Bermuda Page
Hotspots lesson: Theory and Plate Velocities