Marine life is a true diversity of species. Through the game with an animated scarf, we will get to know some of them. If you take a closer look at fishing nets, you can notice that they catch not only fishes. Some creatures end up trapped as bycatch, which means they are caught unintentionally during fishing. It’s very sad, but these unwanted “quarries” often die as a result of suffocation or cutting.
In the game, we will help them escape from the nets and consider what to do to avoid situations in which animals, fish, and birds fall victim to ill-considered human actions or greed in the future.
Goal: Introducing children to the diversity of marine ecosystem life.
Time: 45 minutes
- marine creatures (attachment 1.1)
- A4 white paper
- laminator (optionally)
- curtain (e.g., Klanza scarf, blanket, bedsheet, drape)
The course of the task
The teacher spreads a Klanza scarf or another large fabric on the floor. The children sit around it. The teacher spreads cards with pictures of marine animals on the KLANZA scarf. The teacher takes a hank of wool and explains that before the children name the animals, they should remind themselves of their names. The teacher, still holding the end of the crewel, throws the hank to a chosen child, quoting his name. Then each subsequent child does the same. If the children know each other very well, they can be asked to tell where water is located in nature or what it is needed for as they throw the hank of wool.
When all the children have a piece of crewel, the teacher ends the game and asks them to place the crewel on the floor. Over the drawings of marine animals a net is being created. The teacher draws attention to the problem that sometimes, due to human activities, animals that should escape detection end up in fishing nets. (“bycatch”).
The teacher asks children to try to name what they see in the pictures and choose from the net the images of creatures that shouldn’t be there. The teacher checks the correctness of their task. Creatures that shouldn’t be in the net are marked in the list in italics.
In the next part of the lesson, the children fix the names of the animals they have learned in their minds. The teacher divides the group into two teams. The teams sit opposite each other. The raised Chusta Klanzy or other material serves as the boundary between the two groups. Each team receives 7 cards with images of marine creatures. In each round of the game, players (one from each team) sits opposite one another on both sides of the curtain, each holding one selected image chosen by their team. The players’ task is to quickly identify and say aloud what the opponent’s card depicts once the curtain drops. The player who provides the correct answer first gains a new member for their team.
An example of the game course:
In Team A, it was decided that Kasia will sit in front of the curtain with a drawing of a seal.
In Team B, it was decided that Henio will sit in front of the curtain with a drawing of a shark.
After the children take their places and the curtain falls, Kasia shouts “shark” first. Therefore, Henio switches to Team A.
The curtain is raised.
The teams choose different players and different pictures. For example:
In Team A – Zuzia sits in front of the curtain with a seahorse.
In Team B – Basia sits in front of the curtain with a water turtle, etc.
The list of marine creatures
The cards contain the following:
MACKEREL Generally, it can be caught, however it’s worth noting that there is a lack of proper management plan for this species in the Mediterranean Sea.
POCKET CRAB Generally, it can be caught, but in FAO Area 37, which is in the Mediterranean Sea, there is overfishing of this species.
SEAHORSE There are about 50 species of seahorses, of which 30 are listed in the Red List. Currently, seahorses are becoming less common. Their exotic appearance and peculiar body shape make them popular as souvenirs. Moreover, some consider them a unique delicacy.
SEAL Young, several-week-old seals are most often killed in nets as a by-catch. It is estimated that around 2,000 gray seals die in this way annually in the Baltic Sea. The development of tourism and the destruction of natural breeding habitats also do not aid the existence of the species. Over the past century, the number of these animals has dramatically declined. Currently, we have about 40% of the population compared to 100 years ago in the Baltic Sea.
SEA TURTLE Most species of sea turtles require protection against extinction. They face various threats at almost every stage of their development. Getting caught in by-catch is especially dangerous for them, as they need to come to the surface from time to time to breathe. Once they are caught in fishing nets, they cannot flow out freely. This is how they drown to death.When they get caught in fishing nets, they cannot freely escape and end up drowning. Fortunately, by implementing changes in fishing techniques, the mortality rate of sea turtles can be significantly reduced. This can include using slightly larger traps and hooks that turtles can escape from. By employing devices like Turtle Excluder Devices (TEDs), the bycatch of sea turtles can be limited.
SHARK Sharks should not be caught as bycatch, which often happens during bottom trawling or longline fishing. There is also a worrying phenomenon of sharks being caught only to cut off their fins, which are in high demand in Southeast Asia.
STINGRAY Stingrays are not the primary target for fishermen in commercial terms. However, they are at risk of extinction due to the phenomenon of bycatch.
SEAGULL Mortality of birds in fishing gear is unfortunately a global conservation issue. It’s worth mentioning other bird species that perish in bycatch, such as hibernant ducks by the Baltic Sea: long-tailed duck, white-winged scoter, or grebes. Seabirds die by getting entrapped in hook lines, becoming trapped in gill-nets, colliding with trawl wires, or falling into trap tools. The threat can be reduced by attaching deterrent tapes to the lines.
SQUID A nutrient-rich delicacy, but we shouldn’t buy squid when we know it was caught in FAO Area 27, which is the North East Atlantic, or FAO Area 37, which is in the Mediterranean Sea.
PUFFIN In Poland, it appears sporadically and is subject to strict species protection.
NORTHERN SHRIMP Managing the species through catch limits and partial discard bans helps to reduce the negative effects of human interference.
HERRING The fishing gear used for herring catches rarely touches the seabed, resulting in low bycatches and vulnerable benthic habitats remain unaffected. Unfortunately, in many cases, caught herring are discarded back into the sea, awaiting more profitable catches. This practice is being addressed through discard bans to reduce such occurrences.
ROSEFISH Generally, it is permissible to fish, although it should be noted that fishing methods such as trawling or gill-netting pose a risk of catching sharks, rays, whales, and dolphins by bycatch.
PORPOISE It is a representative of the cetacean family, so if the children say whale or dolphin, they should be guided to the correct name for the mammal. Small porpoises are particularly vulnerable to death by bycatch. They are threatened by strong nylon nets with small meshes. The porpoise needs to surface every 8-12 minutes to breathe. If its snout enmeshes in a net, the animal will die from suffocation. Additionally, the challenge is that nets made of synthetic materials do not reflect sound, and porpoises navigate thanks to echolocation. Therefore, they “cannot see” that they are falling into a trap.
This post was created as part of a project co-financed by the Deutsche Bundesstiftung Umwelt in cooperation with Naturschutzzentrum Oberlausitzer Bergland.