The topics in the table below provide information and activities for children to complete to learn about life in rockpools, estuaries, mangroves and seagrasses.
Rockpools are located in the intertidal zone - the zone which lies above water at low tide and below water at high tide. It is a fascinating world, teeming with life that has evolved to live in one of the most challenging places on the planet. Plants and animals living on rocky shores have to deal with relentless heat from the sun during the day, cold nights, crashing waves, inundation with salt water and high saline conditions when seawater evaporates, replaced by fresh water when it rains.
An estuary is an area where a freshwater river or stream meets the ocean. In estuaries, the salty ocean mixes with a freshwater river, resulting in brackish water. Brackish water is somewhat salty, but not as salty as the ocean. Estuaries are unique, biologically diverse ecosystems supporting many different species of plants, animals, birds and fish. Estuaries are often referred to as the “nurseries of the sea” because they provide sheltered, nutrient rich breeding grounds for fish, crustaceans and other marine life. They also offer important feeding and nesting habitats for animals and safe areas for migratory birds to recuperate. Many different habitat types are found in and around estuaries, including shallow open waters, freshwater and saltwater marshes, swamps, mud and sand flats, oyster reefs, mangrove forests and seagrass beds.
Seagrasses are marine plants with the same basic structure as land plants. They have tiny flowers and strap-like or oval leaves. Seagrasses form meadows in estuaries and shallow coastal waters with sandy or muddy bottoms. They are very important as nurseries and habitat for many commercially important species of fish and prawns.
Mangroves are a group of trees and shrubs that live in the coastal intertidal zone. Mangrove forests stabilize the coastline, reducing erosion from storm surges, currents, waves, and tides. The intricate root system of mangroves also makes these forests attractive to fish and other organisms seeking food and shelter from predators.