Games, Seas and Oceans

(Non) Dangerous fish migration

What is a fish migration? Today you will get to know the Beluga Sturgeon and the term of migration. You will understand the main reasons for the migration of some animals, specifically the Beluga Sturgeon fish.

MATERIALS

  • Map of the migration of the Beluga Sturgeon (from previous task)
  • Bench
  • Coloured paper (paperboard)
  • Models of different Danube fish (northern pike, zander/pike-perch, European perch, common bream)
  • 1 wooden pin/peg for each Beluga Sturgeon (1 pin/peg for 5 children)
  • Bony plates – scutes made from felt (depending on the number of children – 1 Beluga Sturgeon has two sets of labels),
  • 1 paper model of a tail for each Beluga Sturgeon
  • Blue string for sea boundary
  • Yellow string for spawn area boundary

Instruction

HINT: minimum number of children – 5

The teacher shows the children different species of Danube fish with life scale models, or at least of relative size and places them in the river (on the ground).

Now the teacher invites the children to make groups of five and pretend to be a Beluga Sturgeon (in a group of 15 there will be 3 Belugas, in a group of 20 children there will be 4 Belugas, etc.).

Every child represents a part of a Beluga Sturgeon and is given one function:

  • the 1st child gets a wooden pin. Their task is to catch/huntat least 1 fish from the river (pin/peg = mouth; plus 4 barbels that help them find food) while migrating from the sea to Bratislava;
  • the 2nd child opens and closes his mouth as their gills breathe (gills – breathing);
  • the 3rd and 4th child receive bony plates – scutes made from felt (scutes – protection);
  • the 5th child moves with a paper tail from side to side (tail as a rudder – movement).

Each part of the body is very important for survival during a long journey. For the smallest children, we can simplify the task and each child will represent the Beluga Sturgeon with a pin/peg in their hand (without functions).

Before the migration begins, it must be clear to the children where the river is (blue cloth on the ground), where they migrate for spawning (the photo of Bratislava, behind the yellow string) and where the sea is (behind the blue string). Once again, the teacher repeats it to the children. Use the entire classroom for the game.

The game

1st ROUND (swimming as a Beluga Sturgeon):

It is autumn and before going on the journey, all the Beluga Sturgeons (about 3-4 children out of 5) gather in the sea (behind a blue string). Their aim is to migrate safely upstream, to spawn in a place near Bratislava (above the border marked by a yellow string and a photo of Bratislava).

The children will now identify themselves with the role of the Beluga Sturgeon and their functions – they make a “test voyage”, by swimming upstream to Bratislava and back to the Black Sea.

 

2nd ROUND (food):

In order to survive such a long journey, they must catch (with a wooden pin/peg) at least one fish during the migration. When they reach their spawning place, the teacher checks to see if each child has caught a fish and how many survived. After that they migrate back to the sea, respecting the same rules.

 

3rd ROUND (danger – poachers):

Can something threaten the Beluga Sturgeons during their migration? Remember what threatened Raluca when she met Tola, Pola and Rascal? Bulldogs – poachers! (You can find the story here).

The teacher will be a poacher. The teacher describes his role: during a game of migration, he/she sits down by the river and represents a poacher who hunts with his hands. If any Beluga Sturgeon comes within the reaching distance to the poacher, the poacher touches or catches it. Caught fish can’t continue its journey and the child stays standing in one place.

 

4th ROUND (another danger – river dam):

Now, the teacher blocks the river with a bench so that the children cannot get to the other side.

How do Beluga Sturgeons/children behave? How do they feel? (confused, etc.) Ask the children what the bench represents? The river dam which cannot be safely crossed (in the story it was the Gabčíkovo River Dam, but the lowest dam is the Iron Gate II about 860 km from the Danube’s delta). It completely stopped the Beluga Sturgeons from going to their spawning places. What can we do to help the Beluga Sturgeons?

 

Observations and conclusions

Do you remember why Raluca from our story migrated such a long way (hundreds of kilometres) from the sea to below the city of Bratislava?

She wanted to lay eggs to preserve her species, as her grandmothers did. Her species is very old, as Beluga Sturgeons havebeen living on Earth for over 200 million years. That’s why today they are called “living fossils”.

Before you go on a journey, it is very important to remember what you need to survive. What would that be?

FOOD – you must catch something. What do Beluga Sturgeons catch? They are such huge fish (with a mouth represented by a wooden pin)! And what do these big fish eat? (e.g. smaller river fish).

Do you know any other Danube fish?

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