In this activity, students sort oyster reef organisms to identify the many types of organisms that live in an oyster reef and form the reef community. Students then create a mural showing the oyster reef and organisms commonly found there. Students then dissect an oyster to explore its anatomy. Finally as part of a role-playing exercise, students become biologists whose assignment is to uncover what is causing the decline in an oyster population and then to propose a solution to the problem.
This activity has three parts:
- Oyster Reef Community
- Oyster Dissection
- Save the Oyster Reef
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Students should understand that:
- Oysters live with other organisms near the shore and can form oyster reefs.
- Reef oysters are adapted to live within the dynamic, stressful intertidal environment.
- Oysters are economically important in coastal regions. Oysters are also environmentally important in that they remove pollutants from the water and oyster reefs help protect marsh shorelines from erosion.
- Populations of oysters that form oyster reefs have been reduced by pollution, excess sediment in the water, over-fishing, and by loss of areas of hard substrate on which to grow.
- Oyster reef restoration and controls on over-harvesting of oysters can slow or stop the decline in the reef oyster population.