Lockdown Learning

Guardians of the Deep would like to invite all those kids wanting to explore the awesome ocean realm but, due to the recent COVID-19 Lockdown, think they aren’t able to. Between this page and the Guardians Facebook Page, we will be uploading activities and crafts (with helpful links) that will allow kids to immerse themselves in the wonder of the underwater world. Just because we can’t visit the beach, doesn’t mean that we can’t still make good ocean-minded choices, explore the deep-sea and fill in your Ocean Journals.

We will hold “Ask a Marine Biologist” Sessions on the Guardians Facebook Page, email your questions to guardiansofthedeep@yahoo.com, and even try and rope in some ocean-minded friends from other marine fields to join us for these sessions.

We will continue to add activities, crafts, learning resources and links. If you have any suggestions (topics you would like covered or crafts/activities you would like sourced) or questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me on the above email address.


How to Make Good Ocean-Minded Choices during Lockdown

One of the key aspects of Guardians of the Deep is realising that our everyday choices hold the power to bring about positive environmental change. At the beginning of each Guardians session, we chat about the good choices that we have made during the week to share ideas and inspire others to join the shifting tide of perceptions. Being confined to your home and not being able to attend beach clean-ups doesn’t mean that you can’t still make good choices for the ocean. If you would like to share your ideas, post them on the Guardians Facebook page. I will add some of your really cool ideas to this page. Here are a few ideas to start you off on your journey to make a positive difference for the environment (click on the links below for more information on the ideas)…

  • Start a compost heap: This will reduce the amount of refuse that needs to be collected every week, will put food scraps to good use by returning them to the earth and provide nutritious compost for your garden during a time when leaving your home for such items is not allowed.
  • Make ecobricks: Not only will you be removing these non-recyclable items from the system; you can also donate these bricks to local upskilling and building initiatives.
  • Support your local farm shop: When you have to go out for food, why not make it local? This minimises the time spent out of your home, it also supports a small local business that might be struggling during this time, and you can reduce your carbon footprint by supporting local. Neighbourhood Farm is open during the lockdown, with loads of yummy, healthy options. Remember to practise responsible lockdown behaviour – only leave your home if absolutely necessary, keep as safe distance from other people, follow the guidelines that will be in place at various establishments.
  • Learn about the Dirty Dozen for your post-lockdown beach clean-ups: Not only will you now know which items are the biggest contributors to marine pollution, you can also start to think of ways to phase them out of your lifestyle
  • Recycle: While stopping the usage of single-use products is definitely the ultimate goal, recycling already bought items is better than sending them to the dump. By reusing the materials in certain products, it will free up space in landfills and preserve natural resources. Cape Town offers a free recycling service through Wasteplan.
  • Use eco-friendly household cleaners and detergents: Our laundry detergents and household cleaners end up in freshwater and marine ecosystems so look for those products that are biodegradable, made from plant-based ingredients and are phosphate- and cruelty-free. Pick n Pay (Green Household) and Checkers (Simple Truth) have awesome ranges of effective eco-friendly cleaning products that smell really good and don’t harm the environment when used.
  • Brew loose tea: Teabags release billions of microplastics into you and the environment. Why not go bagless? It’s better for the environment and your compost heap.
Emperor Penguin


Ocean Exploration Jar

On slips of paper, write down the ocean-related things that you would like to do when lockdown has been lifted and then place them in a jar for later exploration. I can’t wait to get back to the beach and into the sea so some of the things that I’m looking forward to include going for a snorkel, enjoying a long beach walk with my dog, exploring the local rockpools, going for a sea swim and doing beach clean-ups. What can’t you wait to do?

Ocean Heroes

Write a letter to your favourite Ocean Hero telling them how they inspire you to protect the ocean. Follow the links to find out more about how a few of my Ocean Heroes are dedicating their lives to ocean conservation: Aaniyah Omardien (Beach Co-Op), Shamier Magmoet (Sea the Bigger Picture) and Sylvia Earle (Mission Blue). Who are your Ocean Heroes?

Deep Sea Coral Communities

Explore deep sea coral communities with NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) and NMS (Office of National Marine Sanctuaries) and learn about the fascinating species that inhabit these gloomy environments. Use the Deep Sea Species ID Guide to help you spot the different organisms that appear on camera while researchers transport you to the underwater world of the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary. What did you learn from watching this video? Can you name some of the threats that these deep sea coral communities are facing? How many species could you spot? You can also draw the different corals on separate pieces of paper, cut out their names and mix them all up. Try and match the names to their correct picture in a game of Cool Coral Match-Up. Some species are named after their shape and/or colour so make sure you take note of these characteristics when trying to make a correct identification.

Discovering the Microhabitats in your Garden

A garden is a place of rejuvenating tranquillity where one can find peace among the diverse individuals of a flourishing biological community. Take a moment to enjoy the life surrounding you; see if you can spot a sunning lizard, a pollinating bee, busy ants marching off to find their next meal or a beautifully-coloured bird feeding on the nectar, fruit or seeds of a mighty tree. You can also check out some of the garden beasties inhabiting my garden. Below are a couple of posters designed around the microhabitat subject of the Grade 2 curriculum. They include some information on the topic and various activities that can be carried out in your garden. You can also try the activities for marine microhabitats.

Facebook Profile for your Favourite Ocean Animal

This term the SeaStars created one for the Greenland Shark (Somniosus microcephalus), the Oldest Living Vertebrate, as part of their Awesome Ocean Animals term. This incredible shark lives beneath the Arctic polar ice and can reach lengths of up to 7 m, that’s bigger than a great white. With its slow metabolism and low tail-beat frequency it is one of the slowest swimmers in the sea. This easygoing lifestyle contributes to its extreme longevity that is estimated to be between 300 and 500 years, only reaching sexual maturity at approx. 150 years old. Using radioactive carbon dating of crystals within the lens of their eyes, scientists have estimated the oldest tested specimen to be 512 years old!

Greenland Shark FB Profile

Label a Cuvier’s Beaked Whale

The deepest diver in our ocean. This incredible species holds the mammalian record for dive depth, a crushing 2 992 m! It can also hold its breath for an impressive 2 hours 17 min!! Only the males have teeth (two) so they feed by suction, preying on deep-sea fish and squid.

Cuvier's Beaked Whale - Labels

Create a Story-Telling Basket

Either source materials depicted in your favourite ocean storybook or fill your basket with ocean-inspired items that you can use to tell your own story. You can act out scenes from your favourite book or those from a short story about the ocean that you have written. Think about what the ocean means to you or about what some of the creatures might get up to beneath the waves.

Start an Ocean Journal

As part of the Guardians of the Deep Programme, all students receive a personalised Ocean Journal in which they record their good ocean-minded choices, information about their favourite marine species, questions that they would like to ask me, cool ocean-related facts and any awesome things that they might have encountered (written or drawn). We then use the first part of the session to share our ideas and interests to inspire others to want to protect the ocean and the environment as a whole. While we are in lockdown, visits to the beach aren’t allowed so why not explore your garden instead (for those of you who have one)? There are so many interesting animals that live around us, why not use this time to learn more about them? Draw the leaves in the trees, the ladybugs navigating the grass blades, and the birds coming to drink or feed in your garden. You can also document the facts and reproduce the drawings that you find really interesting in books, or online, and have a sharing session with your family.

Ocean Board Games

Check out this awesome (printable) Turtle Adventure board game from Two Oceans Aquarium. Why not design your own too? How about an Octopus Adventure in the Deep Sea or a Penguin Adventure in Antarctica? Or even Life in a Kelp Forest where each player plays for a different species. Think about the challenges they’ll face and the other species they’ll meet. What will cause players to miss a turn, advance three spaces or go back to the beginning? You could even include question cards about ocean life, a correct answer would propel the player forward while an incorrect answer would result in a turn lost. Think about symbiotic relationships and predator/prey interactions. Which ocean adventure would you link to create?

Other Activities

Fun and Useful Links

  1. STEM Works: For activities and articles about life under the sea
  2. National Geographic Education: With topics set from Kindergarten to Grade 12, kids can learn about ocean life, human interactions with the ocean, and the ocean’s physical geography
  3. Coral Watch: Lesson plans covering a range of marine topics
  4. Reef Relief: Virtual marine science classroom lessons every Monday, Wednesday and Friday
  5. Nautilus Live: Explore the deep sea; discover strange and unique creatures and learn about the incredible ecosystems flourishing as a result of hydrothermal vents and whale falls
  6. Zooniverse: A collection of Citizen Science projects in which you can participate. Once you register, there are so many projects from which to choose. Count penguins in remote regions, listen to communicating manatees, examine belugas and count Weddell seals
  7. The Deep Sea: Discover the species living in the dark depths by scrolling down through the marine water column
  8. Coral Reef Adventure: Play the Memory Game, test your knowledge and more while you explore the coral reef ecosystem
  9. Seabirds and Shorebirds: Learn about the seabirds and shorebirds of Hawai’i with this awesome activity book

How much do you know about the ocean and its creatures? Test your knowledge with these quizzes. You can send your answers to guardiansofthedeep@yahoo.com

Online Lessons

Lesson 1 – The Deep Sea

Join me as we explore the murky depths of the Deep Sea, discover fascinating geological features, learn about incredible biological communities and realise how our everyday choices hold the power to bring about positive environmental change.

Links from the presentation:

Final Frontier – The Deep Ocean


Scroll the Deep Sea

Lesson 2 – Antarctica

Tighten your scarf and pull on your gloves as we travel to the icy wilds of Antarctica. Learn about the active volcanoes, the bitter bitter cold and the awesome creatures that have made this harsh environment their home. Discover how our everyday choices hold the power to protect the earth’s coldest, driest and windiest continent.

Links from the presentation:

Walk through South Africa’s Antarctic Base: SANAE IV Tour

Experience life in Antarctica: Icebreaking in Antarctica

Learn how the incredible polar supply and research vessel, SA Agulhas II, was built: SA Agulhas II Documentary

Citizen Science Projects: Zooniverse

My Antarctic Adventures:

Exploring the Frozen Ocean of Terra Australis Incognita

Baptism of Ice: Birding on the SA Agulhas II to the Antarctic Marginal Ice Zone

Lesson 3 – Kelp Forests of South Africa

Dive beneath the waves to explore this incredible underwater sea forest realm. Learn about how kelp fuels two food webs and discover some of the awesome animals that interact in these ecosystems. Discover how the toe-freezing and ankle-numbing south-easter conditions allow these forests to flourish along our coasts.

Links from the presentation:

Explore False Bay Kelp Forest: Kelp Forest Species

Explore Walker Bay Kelp Forest: South African Shark Conservancy

Citizen Science Projects: Zooniverse

Lesson: 4 – Coral Reefs

Coral reefs are beautiful, brightly-coloured ocean ecosystems that are teeming with life. Join me as we discover how one group of sea nettles, powered by dinoflagellates, can build these incredible structures and how our choices, the choices we make everyday, can help to preserve these fragile environments.

Links from the presentation:

Play the Memory Game, test your knowledge and and explore the coral reef ecosystem: Coral Reef Adventure

Virtual Marine Science Lessons: Reef Relief

Citizen Science Projects: Zooniverse

Lesson: 5 – Floating Blue Community

Often seen stranded on our shores, a glimpse into the incredible diversity of pelagic organisms riding the ocean currents is given. A group of these awesome creatures is known as the Floating Blue Community.

Links from the Presentation:

Flotsam and Jetsam Article

The Secret Life of Velella: Scripps Institution of Oceanography

Citizen Science Projects: Zooniverse

Lesson: 6 – Cetaceans

Cetaceans include some of the most awesome creatures on earth; so join me to learn about the ocean’s deepest diver, moustached sea monsters, puffin’ pigs and the famous Port and Starboard. Discover how some whale species have made remarkable recoveries in these post-whaling years and how teams of dedicated, high-skilled volunteers work to ensure the safe release of cetaceans off our coast and attend to marine strandings on our shores.

Links from the Presentation:

Feeding Humpback Supergroups in South Africa: Humpback Supergroups on South Africa’s West Coast

False Bay Whale Disentanglement: SAWDN Saves Juvenile Humpback Whale

South African Humpback Whale Recovery: Our Oceans Film

Paper Plate Blue WhaleEggbox Blue WhaleLeaping DolphinOrigami Dolphin Bookmark

Citizen Science Projects: Zooniverse

Lesson: 7 – Sharks

Sharks play a crucial role in keeping marine ecosystems healthy and yet 100 million sharks are being killed by humans every year! Discover ways in which your everyday choices can change the future for the ocean’s sharks. During this final Lockdown Learning Lesson, we also learn about deepsea sharks, world record migrations, an ancient species living beneath the Arctic ice and how a NASA algorithm is used to ID and track whale sharks.

Links from the Presentation:

SharkSafe Barrier Test on Great White Sharks: Clips from the Field

Rare Encounter: Greenland Shark

The Walking Shark: Epaulette Shark

Citizen Science Projects: Zooniverse


  1. Toilet Roll Octopus

The octopuses are one of the most cunning groups of marine animals. With three hearts, blue blood and the ability to squirt ink at predators, they are pretty incredible creatures. These animals are great escape artists and can change their colour and pattern allowing them to blend into their surroundings. By changing not only its colour, texture and pattern, but also its behaviour and shape, the mimic octopus (Thaumoctopus mimicus) can transform itself into looking like 15 other species.

  1. Paper Plate or Eggbox Blue Whale

The blue whale (Balaenoptera musculus) is the biggest animal to have ever lived. With a heart weighing 181 kg, able to fit 5-6 adults snuggly within its walls, a weight of approx. 150 tonnes (21 African elephant bulls), a length of approx. 27 m, and being able to eat 3 600 kg of krill/day, the blue whale is the biggest animal ever to have lived. Records have been set at 200 tonnes and 33.5 m. There are 5 sub-species of this whale, the ones from the Antarctic being the biggest, and they can be easily spotted by their ginormous blow… 12 m high! Blue whales are listed as Endangered (EN) on the IUCN Red List but recent censuses show that their populations are increasing.

  1. The Peacock Mantis Shrimp as a Superhero (think about the superpowers your shrimp would have and give it a cool name)

These beautifully coloured arthropods have two raptorial appendages (modified forelegs, much like that of a praying mantis) on the front of their bodies that accelerate 50X faster than humans can blink!! In less than 1/3000 of a second these incredible animals can strike their prey with 1 500 Newtons of force. These appendages move with such astonishing speed that the water around them boils in a process known as supercavitation. The force of the cavitation bubbles collapsing cause a shockwave that will kill its prey even if the mantis shrimp misses its punch. Sonoluminescence, in the form of small bursts of light, is also produced from the collapsing cavitation bubbles which reach temperatures of over 4 700 C (the surface temperature of the sun is estimated to be 5 500 C)!

A - Peacock Mantis Shrimp
  1. A Shark’s Day at the Beach (Comic Strip)

During Term 3, the Raggies learn about Ocean Coexistence so we kick off with the Shark Spotters Programme. Not only are the Shark Spotters an innovative and uniquely South African initiative, acting as an early warning system, they also carry out some very cool research. The Spotters act to minimise negative human/shark interactions through their spotting and flag system, by educating the public to #besharksmart and by deploying an eco-friendly shark barrier at one of our local beaches, Fish Hoek. What do you think a day at the beach would be like for sharks?

Great White Shark
  1. Shell Imprints in Salt Dough or Seashell Crafts or Cardboard Aquarium or Ocean in an Egg Carton

Try and come up with your own ideas too, like designing a new seashore species (think about where the animal/plant will live and what adaptations it will need to survive). Why not make an ocean-themed picture frame or see how many different marine animals you can make out of only toilet rolls. How about staging your own ocean play with homemade shadow puppets or inventing new games? I would love to hear from you and see your awesome creations. If you have any questions for us, send us an email at guardiansofthedeep@yahoo.com and if you’d like your ideas and artwork shared with the Guardians community, you can either send us an email at the address above or post on the Guardians Facebook Page.