Coral Reefs in the Dark

Activity or Mini-Lesson
Deep Sea Coral at Osborn Bank, Channel Islands
Ocean Exploration Trust

Deep-sea corals are vastly different from shallow water corals that are typically shown when students are introduced to coral reefs. Deep-sea corals do not gather their energy from the sun using photosynthesis and the relationship with zooxanthellae. Instead, deep water corals capture all of their food from sinking "marine snow", dead organisms, organic matter, other nutrients falling from higher in the water column. This lesson, using the 5E method of teaching (Engage, Explore, Explain, Extend, Evaluate), looks at deep-sea corals of the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary. Students become the data logger like on E/V Nautilus and learn about the importance of deep-sea corals to their environment and ocean health.

Objectives & learning outcomes

The student will explore characteristics and facts about coral and coral reefs in the deep sea in order to discuss the importance of coral for marine life.

Grade level

Grade level

Time & materials

Time & materials
Scale: one of three
Prep time and materials cost minimal, may require printing.



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