Games, Seas and Oceans

Return the Beluga Sturgeons back into the river

Beluga Sturgeon – recently we have talked a lot about this fish. Today we will identify its main features and its adaptation to living in water.

MATERIALS

  • coloured papers
  • pieces of fabric
  • crepe paper
  • colour-box/dyes
  • glue
  • thin string
  • scissors
  • paper models/dummy of Beluga Sturgeon (for each child).

Instruction

Because of the poaching and construction of large dams across the Danube, almost all Beluga Sturgeons became extinct (worldwide in the IUCN Red List they are critically endangered CE, in Slovakia regionally extinct RE).

The Beluga Sturgeons in the story are waiting for a solution and remember that they live up to 100 years old. One that could be brought by children like you.

Does anyone have an idea how to help them?

Suggestions for guiding the children:

  • Let’s talk about the importance of migrating (to preserve the genus and biodiversity of a species)!
  • Do not pollute rivers (keep the river clean)!
  • Let’s educate others about the Beluga Sturgeons (give talks, have museum exhibits, read books, etc.).
  • Let’s suggest some safe paths/fishways through which they can cross dams (show the children an example of a functional fishway in the picture)!

 

After the discussion the teacher hangs up a photo of a big Beluga Sturgeon and prepares artwork material and paper models/dummy of Beluga Sturgeon for each child so that everyone can create their own fish.

The children will learn the typical features of the Beluga Sturgeon’s body:

  • a dark grey back, light grey hips and a white belly (using dyes, coloured paper),
  • huge lower mouth with no teeth (almost across the entire width of the head),
  • 4 barbels on the lower jaw (using 4 pieces of string),
  • bony plates or scutes (5 rows of scutes: 1 on the back, 2 on the sides, 2 on the abdominal side – e.g. from paperboard),
  • an elongated nose – snout,
  • typical long forked heterocercal tail, the top tail is longer than the bottom.

 

Finally, let the children sit in a circle and put a yellow crown on the Queen Beluga Sturgeon announcing her the biggest fish ever to have lived in the Danube. The children can give a message to the river and its inhabitants. Say it now. Why do we want the Beluga Sturgeon to live in the Danube? (e.g. an important part of the river, biodiversity). In reflection, let’s share the children’s impressions.

The teacher closes the program saying:

“I believe that thanks to you, children, one autumn day again, we will see Raluca and her friends on the river Danube as they swim up the river to lay eggs to preserve their old species.”

At the end of the activity let the children release their paper Beluga Sturgeon into the river (the middle or lower Danube—where they are missing now—outside the Delta).

Observations and conclusions

In order to summarise the recent activities related to Beluga Sturgeons divide the children into four groups and let them briefly explain the following themes (marked in bold) to each other:

Group 1 – What is migration (What is associated with migration? What kind of animals migrate and why?).

Group 2 – What is an endangered species (When is a species endangered? Can you name any?).

Group 3 – Describes the river Danube and minimum two inhabitants of the river (Where does the river flow? What lives by/in the river?)

Group 4 – How do fish adapt to live in the water (See their body – fins, body shape, scales, gills)?

 

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