Environmental Learning Outside the Classroom (ELOC)

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1 Environmental Learning Outside the Classroom (ELOC) This guidebook provides lesson ideas and activities to get students engaged with outdoor learning. Created by the Virgin Islands Marine Advisory Service (VIMAS), an extension arm of the University of Puerto Rico s Sea Grant College Program. For more information, contact: Howard Forbes Jr. (VIMAS Coordinator) ph: / Website: vimas.uvi.edu

2 References Assessment Activity Information VIMAS Lesson Plan Topic: Marine plants: Mangroves and Seagrasses Grade level: 4 th to 12 th Estimated time for activity: Lecture: minutes, Activity: minutes Purpose: To teach students about mangroves and ecological and cultural importance. The lesson will also focus on seagrasses. Procedure: Students will be given a small lecture and briefing on the material. They can then be engaged in a hike through a mangrove forested area and play games that focus on mangroves. Students will be actively engaged in discussion about marine plants. Students should be able to identify all 4 species of mangroves found in the Virgin Islands. Lastly, students should also be able to identify several species of seagrasses and things that they can do minimize their impact on these species

3 Mangrove Ecosystems Red mangroves (Rhizophora mangle) are a species of mangrove that is ecologically important. The large red roots pictured above provide habitat for many organisms such as fish, coral, sponges, and crabs. These mangroves also help to trap sediment and other pollutants before they can enter the ocean.

4 Mangroves of the Virgin Islands The white mangrove (Laguncularia racemosa) is one of four species of mangroves found in the Virgin Islands. While in bloom, they produce distint white flowers. The white mangrove does not have the same ecological benefits as the red mangroves do, however; they do provide nesting habitat for birds.

5 Mangrove Ecosystems Black mangroves (Avicennia germinans) are one of the four species of mangroves found in the Virgin Islands. This species of mangroves have a special adaptation called pneumatophores which enable them to exchange gases in the atmosphere. They are also able to excrete salts from the pores of their leaves. Fiddler crabs are usually associated with this species of mangrove.

6 Mangroves of the Virgin Islands The buttonwood mangrove (Conocarpus erectus) is one of four mangrove species found in the Virgin Islands, however; it is considered an associate species rather than a true species. These mangroves are usually found furthest from the shoreline in comparison to the other three species of mangroves.

7 Circle of Life Mangrove ecosystem inhabitants Group Activity Each student selects a species tag. These tags display organisms found within a mangrove ecosystem as well as their connection to each other. One student is handed a roll of string and passes that string to another player in the circle of life that they are connected to (found on the back of the tag). This continues until all players in the circle are connected. Once all players are connected, the leader will present the group with a scenario that impacts the ecosystem. All affected organisms are removed from the circle until no organisms remain.

8 Mangrove nursery Fun Activity Using plastic bottles, you can grow red mangrove propagules and start your very own nursery. They will grow either in sand or in ProMix potting soil. After about 6 months, you transplant them into an already established salt pond to help sustain the forest. Within the Virgin Islands, all species of mangroves are protected by the Virgin Islands Code. Consult with a trained professional or local authorities within the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

9 Seagrasses of the Virgin Islands Thalassia testudinum Syringodium filiforme thedeepness.org%2fsites%2fdefault%2ffiles%2fcontent_item_images% 2FThalassia_testudinum_2.jpg In the Virgin Islands, there are three species of seagrasses: Thalassia testudinum, Syringodium filiforme, and Halodule wrightii. Seagrasses perform a number of ecosystem services such as stabilizing the sediment, providing habitat, as well as Halodule wrightii

10 Seagrass mapping Fun Activity You can be a part of the Citizen Science movement and help collect scientific data that helps researchers. Using transects and quadrats, students will snorkel in different bays and document the various species of seagrass they encounter. Students can also take underwater photos and video to help them with their data collection. Afterwards, students can upload their data (presence of species) to the following map by following

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