All living things need energy to survive and grow. Plants get their energy from the Sun. Other living things get their energy from eating other living things that ate other living things that ate other livings... Humans are consumers at the top of many ocean living things food chains. We eat fish, mollusks, crustaceans, ocean plants and even some marine mammals.


In the three following investigations you or your students select one or more ocean living things they eat, want to eat or can’t believe anybody would eat. Then they explore what it eats and/or where it lives. NOTE: Students may or may not have made connections between the fish stick they ate for lunch and the cod fish from which it came. If you don’t want them to deal with the human connection, modify the approach to exclude the human element. Have the students assume the role of another ocean living thing at top, in the middle or at the bottom of a marine food chain. Then ask them to tell you where they see food and work you way through food chain. 


These investigations can be easily adapted to produce a variety of student products. Student products might be in the form of a food chain or web mobile, a drawing, a story or a play, a song or a poem about the ocean living things they see as food. The complexity of the student product can be adjusted according to the grade level. Younger students might create a simple food chain with the Sun, phytoplankton or a plant, zooplankton (krill) or a little fish, a big fish and a human. Older students might create food webs rather than chains and be required to include habitat and/or life cycle descriptions.


Any of the investigations could focus on specimens that live in a particular ocean habitat (coral reef, kelp forest, Arctic, etc.), specimens that are part of a particular group (mollusks, crustaceans, fish, mammals, etc.) or specimens that exhibit certain behaviors or features (symbiotic relationships, migration patterns, are poisonous, unusual courtship or reproduction patterns). The human element approach is to focus on ocean living things that end up on human dinner plates or in our food.


Go here to find pictures and facts about ocean living things. You can search by animal type or by habitat.