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Snorkeling (FBCEC)

TopicHabitat and Management - Species and Habitat Management
Laboratory and Hands-on Activities - Physical Activity
Outdoor Skills - Identification
Outdoor Skills - Snorkeling
The best way to view the inhabitants of Crooked Creek is to get underwater with them. This introduction to snorkeling allows young naturalists to swim in shallow water with fish and other creatures that live in the creek. Snorkeling basics and safety will be covered, and then participants will get in the creek where they will identify some of the creatures and describe the underwater habitat.
Grade Level4 - 12 (See Special Conditions)
Recommended SettingCrooked Creek
LocationFred Berry Conservation Education Center, Yellville, AR
Education Program Coordinator, 870-449-3484
Duration45 minutes - 1 hour
Suggested Number of ParticipantsUp to 12
Special Conditions
Water conditions and weather permitting.  Students will wear life jackets.

(Note: The younger the group, the more supervision needed. At least one supervising adult per four to six elementary-aged children is required.)

  • Explore the underwater habitat of shallow riffles on Crooked Creek.
  • Safely and properly use a snorkel and mask.
  • Describe and identify aquatic species in Crooked Creek.

Field guides

Life jackets

Snorkels and masks


Snorkeling lets naturalists of all ages observe aquatic wildlife closely in a nonthreatening way. Snorkelers are free to move under the water, exploring creatures in a seldom-viewed setting.

  1. Ask participants to describe the habitat and name the wildlife that might live there. Discuss what they think the habitat in Crooked Creek is like and what wildlife they might find. Ask younger participants if they would like to look at the habitat and the wildlife in the creek. Explain to older participants that they will informally survey the underwater habitat and associated wildlife.
  2. Tell them they could see much more than fish such as reptiles, amphibians and many invertebrates, particularly insect larvae. (Some terms may need to be explained with younger participants.) Prior to class, assemble pictures and guides for identifying the creatures they observe.
  3. Demonstrate putting on the mask and snorkel.
    • Adjust the strap to fit the wearer.
    • Check that the mask is properly sealed (no hair in the way, etc.).
    • Show how the mouthpiece is to be worn and make sure the snorkel is clipped to the mask.
    • Demonstrate how to rinse the inside of the mask if it becomes fogged.
    • Since participants will be snorkeling the riffles (shallows), they can keep the top of the snorkel above the water. However, demonstrate how to blow water from the snorkel after surfacing should they submerge it.
    • NEVER lay the masks down on the gravel bar. Place them in the tub when finished.
    • Fit all participants with life jackets.
    • Clearly explain that snorkelers should enter the water slowly with very little splashing or disturbing of the creek bottom. They should look around and move slowly, gradually making their way upstream. Explain that many organisms live under the rocks, and very gently moving fingers through the gravel or turning over rocks can reveal some surprises.
    • Allow participants to explore until time is up or until they tire. After leaving the water, they should place the masks and snorkels in the container and then refer to the guides and pictures to identify organisms. Have them list what they saw or mark a checklist.
    • To close, gather all the participants and have them describe in detail the habitat and the organisms found there.
    • Thoroughly rinse all snorkels and masks in diluted bleach water. Rinse with plain water and dry completely before storing in mesh bags.

Demonstrate putting on a mask and snorkel.