Under the Surface (FBCEC)

Summary:

This activity will combine the use of an Aqua View underwater camera and snorkeling and/or seining to study life under the water. Many organisms live at least part-time in Crooked Creek including fishes, turtles, macroinvertebrates, aquatic snakes and mammals.

Grade Level:

K - 12

Recommended Setting:

Indoor classroom and Crooked Creek

Outdoor Activity:

No

Location:

Fred Berry Conservation Education Center, Yellville, AR

Contact:

Education Program Coordinator, 870-449-3484

Duration:

1 - 2.5 hours

Suggested Number of Participants:

Up to 24

Special Conditions:

Water conditions and weather permitting.

Objectives:

  • Understand that Crooked Creek provides a diverse habitat for its inhabitants.
  • View underwater organisms with the Aqua View camera.
  • Identify the underwater wildlife by snorkeling.
  • Sample the Crooked Creek fish population by seining.
  • Understand life stages of aquatic animals.

Key Terms*:

Aquatic

Invertebrate

Macroinvertebrate

Seining

Snorkeling

Vertebrate

*See glossary for definations

Materials:

  • Aqua View camera
  • Exhibit creek animals
  • Life jackets
  • Field guides
  • Photos/posters/trading cards or slide show of common Crooked Creek inhabitants
  • Seine and collection buckets
  • Snorkels and masks

Background:

As a free-flowing, warm-water stream, Crooked Creek’s habitat is suitable for the tiniest microbes to hefty bass as well as a many birds and aquatic mammals. From its headwaters west of Harrison to its mouth on the White River near Rea Valley, Crooked Creek winds an 80-plus mile course through the Ozarks.

Procedure:

  1. Ask participants to name organisms they might see under water in Crooked Creek. Point out that many organisms call the creek home. Vertebrates include reptiles, amphibians, fish and mammals, and invertebrates include insects, snails, clams, leeches and worms. Use classroom exhibit animals as well as photos/slide show or posters to introduce common inhabitants of Crooked Creek. How might Crooked Creek inhabitants compare with those of nearby streams? Be sure to explain that Crooked Creek is a free-flowing, warm-water stream.
  2. Set up the Aqua View camera probe under water and arrange participants where they can easily view the monitor. Discuss characteristics of inhabitants as you encounter them with the camera.
  3. Continue the activity with seining and snorkeling.
    • Seining:
      • Teach how to seine and allow the class to capture fish samples by seining.
      • Identify the fish they collect.
    • Snorkeling:
      • Teach how to snorkel and refer to the outdoor skills section of the FBCEC curriculum, if needed. Snorkel to view underwater critters. Ask participants to describe the creatures they saw.
  4. Wrap up by discussing the organisms viewed and clarify that many animals make their home in the creek at least part of their life cycle. Emphasize that diverse inhabitants are directly correlated to a diverse habitat.

Review:

  • Describe the underwater habitat(s) explored. Be specific. What was the bottom like? Was the water deep or shallow? Clear or murky? Fast- or slow-flowing? Were plants growing in the water?
  • What types of aquatic animals were identified?
  • Describe the proper technique for seining minnows.

Resources:

  • Pflieger, William L. (1996). The Crayfishes of Missouri, The Missouri Department of Conservation.
  • Robison, Henry W. and Thomas M. Buchanan (1984). Fishes of Arkansas, The University of Arkansas Press, 1984.
  • Voshell, J. Reese, Jr. (2002). A Guide to Common Freshwater Invertebrates of North America, The McDonald & Woodward Publishing Company.
  • Wiliams, Jeff and Randy Zellers (2006). Arkansas Fish. The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission.

Glossary:

Aquatic – consisting of or relating to water; living or growing in, on or near the water

Invertebrate – an animal, such as an insect or mollusk, that lacks a backbone or spinal column

Macroinvertebrate – organism that has no backbone, lives in or on the water for all or part of its life and is large enough to be seen without a microscope

Seining – to catch fish using a large net with sinkers on one edge and floats on the other

Snorkeling – swimming submerged in a body of water while equipped with a diving mask, a shaped tube called a snorkel and usually swimfins

Vertebrate – organisms that have a spinal column