Label: Coral Reefs

June 2, 2013

Though we picked our winners at random, we want to recognize some of the other very strong research and writing by the students at Skano Elementary School as part of Seymour Simon’s CORAL REEFS contest. We do not have enough space to feature all the excellent writing, so this is just a sample. We think that our readers will enjoy reading what you found out.

Elizabeth, 4th Grade, 9 years old, in Mr. Farquharson’s class wrote:


Porcupinefish, also known as blowfish can blow themselves up to protect themselves from predators.  Giant Moray Eels are about 6 feet long and they blend in with the coral reef to protect themselves from predators.  Finally, Goby fish are less than 10cm (2 inches) long and they hide in coral reefs when they see a predator.  The coral reef is home to a lot of sea creatures and serves as a hiding place to many of them.

Photo: Giant Moray Eel 


My name is Dylan M. and I am in Kindergarten in Mrs. Benkoski’s class at Skano Elementary. I want to enter this contest because I love learning about what is under the sea and all the fish and beautiful creatures living in the ocean. My three choices are: The Long-Spined Sea Urchin, which can be found in the Bahamas or the Atlantic Ocean and in the Mediterranean Sea. 

My mom has seen them before in the Mediterranean Sea when she visited Italy. They are black and have long, spiky looking needles sticking out of them and are shaped liked a circle and are pretty cool looking.

They live in shallow water which means you could easily step on them accidentally and my mom says it hurts REALLY bad because she did once. And they eat algae.

Photo: Long-Spined Sea Urchin

My second choice is the Spotted Moray Eel. I would love to be able to see an Eel, they look so creepy with their beady eyes. They have dark brown or purple spots all over their bodies and grow about 3-4 feet in length. They eat Crustaceans and fish and are dangerous so don’t get bitten by their sharp teeth!

My third choice is a crab. The Ghost crab in particular blends with their environment because they match the color of the sand. They can travel fast at 10 miles per hour, which is super fast. They eat crabs, clams, insects, and vegetations. I thought it was cool that they eat other crabs.

I entered this contest because I enjoy learning about other eco systems.


Alyssa, in Mrs.O’Brien’s 2nd grade class,  came up with many more than three interesting reef animals:

  Coral reefs are full of amazing beauty! Some of the creatures living on the coral reef are banded coral shrimp, giant moray eel, longnose hawkfish, parrot fishes & a variety of clownfish including percula clownfish, tomato clownfish, maroon clownfish & pink skunk clownfish! I am a big fan of the ocean & all its living species! 

Photo: Lightning Maroon Clownfish


Bradley also did a lot of research:

Some animals that live in coral reefs are blowfish, angel sharks, bivalves and lemon sharks.


Blowfish are also called Putterfish, Globefish and Fugu. They are...

read more

Posted by: Liz Nealon

(0) Comments  •   Labels: School Visits, Coral Reefs, Kids Write   •  Permalink (link to this article)

June 1, 2013


Thank you to everyone from Skano Elementary School who entered the CORAL REEFS contest. We asked students to do some research and tell us about three animals that live in coral reefs. I enjoyed seeing the choices you made and reading your writing about these animals. This contest was very unusual because of the large number of kindergarteners, both individuals and classes, who entered. This was very exciting work from the kindergarten kids, and you’ll see some of it here in our winning entries.

As promised, we have selected two winners of this contest, and both will receive an autographed copy of Seymour Simon’s newest book, CORAL REEFS. We chose the winners at random, using a very cool random number generator website called

Are you ready? Here are the winners of Seymour Simon’s CORAL REEFS contest!


Individual Winner:  Benny, 6 years old, from Mrs. Russo’s kindergarten class. Benny wrote:

1. coral looks like a plant but is an animal

2. sharks have sharp teeth

3. lobster eyes are on stalks


Classroom Winner: Mrs. Benkoski’s Kindergarten Class. They wrote:

Sharks are cool and some live in coral reefs.  Sand tiger sharks can be found there, but they sometimes hide in the sand.  Squids have 10 arms and also live in coral reefs.  Lots of sea urchins live on coral reefs. They have many poisonous spines. They can puff these out at things that swim by.  It was really fun learning about coral reefs and we love your new book!

Congratulations to everyone who entered. Be on the lookout for another blog post, because we enjoyed the work you did for this contest so much, we are going to publish some of your writing for everyone to read.

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(0) Comments  •   Labels: School Visits, Coral Reefs, Contests, Kids Write   •  Permalink (link to this article)

May 23, 2013

It is time for a new contest! Seymour Simon is visiting Skano Elementary School in Clifton Park, NY at the end of this month, and this contest is for all the Skano Elementary kids to enter. Two lucky winners are going to receive personally autographed copies of Seymour Simon’s new book, CORAL REEFS.

Here is how you enter. First, read this excerpt from Seymour’s newest book. 


Coral reefs look like a bunch of rock formations. But a coral reef is actually a gigantic community of living things. For a long time, corals were a mystery to people. They were called rock-plants or plant-animals.

Now we know that each coral polyp, basically a mouth, is a soft sea animal that is something like a jellyfish. The polyp makes a hard, protective limestone skeleton.

Once you have read this, here is what you do to enter:

1.    Do some research and tell us about three animals that live on coral reefs. They might be fish, they might be crustaceans like crab and lobster, or they might be plant-like corals.

2.    You can find your information by clicking on the "Coral Reefs" label on this blog, in Seymour’s book CORAL REEFS, or by using other resources, like the library and the Internet.

3.    Click on the yellow "Comments" link at the bottom of this blog entry to enter the contest by telling us about the three animals you have studied. Make sure that you put the information you have found into your own words (don’t just copy and paste information you find).

4.    When you write your information, be sure to also tell us your name (first name only), your grade, your age and your teacher’s name, so that we can find you if you are chosen as the winner. Allow 24 hours for your comment to show up online, because all comments by people under 13 years old are reviewed by a moderator and approved before they appear on the website. Be patient if you don’t see it right away!

5.    Be sure to post your entry by midnight, Friday, May 31. The contest ends then.

6.    Two winners will be chosen randomly from all the correct entries. Older students may enter individually, and we will pick one winner. Students in grades K-2 may enter as a class and work with their teacher to enter the contest; there will be one classroom winner.

7.    Students who do not attend Skano Elementary may also enter this contest. The rules are the same as above, but for #4, please include your first name, your grade, your teacher’s name, the name of your school, and the city where your school is located. If we have at least 20 entries from other schools, we will randomly choose a third prize winner from the non-Skano Elementary entries. 


Winners will receive copies of CORAL REEFS, personally autographed by Seymour Simon.

So, get to work and send us your entries today!



Posted by: Liz Nealon

(47) Comments  •   Labels: New Books, Animals, School Visits, Coral Reefs, Contests, Kids Write   •  Permalink (link to this article)

April 23, 2013


 Today is publication day for Seymour Simon’s latest book from HarperCollins, CORAL REEFS. Hiding on the floor of Earth’s tropical oceans are magnificent and colorful coral reefs. Did you know that coral reefs…..

are actually living beings?

can grow to be taller than a skyscraper?

provide a home for a vast number of other living creatures?


Here is a sample page from this exciting new book:



A giant moray eel grows to more than six feet (1.8 meters) long. It hides within cracks and openings in a reef, perfectly blending in with the surrounding coral.




Colorful parrotfish use their chisel-like teeth to scrape coral for algae. While eating, the parrotfish grinds the coral into the fine white sand found on tropical beaches.


Posted by: Liz Nealon

(1) Comments  •   Labels: New Books, Coral Reefs, Earth Day 2013   •  Permalink (link to this article)

April 16, 2013



Today, 9-year-old Will from Ohio writes a kids’ eye review of Seymour Simon’s upcoming new book, CORAL REEFS. It will be published simultaneously in hardcover, paperback and eBook editions on April 23. 



Hi my name is Will. I usually spend my days learning about the civil war, but I took this week to read and think about Coral Reefs by Seymour Simon. It was a wonderful book, filled with information about a different part of the planet. A part that I don’t get to be with very much.

My favorite part of the book was the colorful pictures. The book started off with a beautiful picture of the coral reef. It was filled with fish of all sorts, colorful corals and bright blue water.

I was also really interested in all the ways plants and animals protect themselves. One thing I learned that I never knew before was that some living things disguise themselves to hide from their predators. An example of this was the sponge that makes itself look like a animal. I liked the puffer fish the best because it has an interesting form of self-defense - making itself bigger and growing spikes.

This book made me want to learn more about oceans and the different life forms that live in them. I recommend Coral Reefs to people who are interested in fish, the ocean or sea plants. The pictures are beautiful and you will learn a lot!

Loved your book!


Posted by: Seymour Simon

(5) Comments  •   Labels: New Books, eBooks, Coral Reefs, Oceans, Kids Write, Conservation, Earth Day 2013, Reviews   •  Permalink (link to this article)

February 28, 2013

So I had a hitchhiker anemone in my saltwater aquarium. Using the SeeMore Explorers Observation Log, I finally figured out that the hitchhiker was named an Aiptasia anemone, also known as a Rock, Tube or Glass Rose Anemone. It’s called a pest not because it keeps asking questions you can’t answer (only kidding), but because it can multiply rapidly, grow quickly and more-or-less take over the aquarium from other invertebrates.

The Aiptasia Anemone looks like a tiny palm tree, with a long, thin body and miniature, waving tentacles on top. Like many other anemones, Aiptasia uses its tentacles to sting enemies and food animals that come too close. The tentacles have stinging cells called nematocysts that can sting fish, crabs, shrimp, coral and anything else (like your fingers) that come too close. An Aiptasia also withdraws into a tiny hole in the rock if threatened.

It’s hard to get rid of a colony of Aiptasia in an aquarium. If you try to rip it out, each tiny torn piece that you leave behind grows into a new animal. This results in more animals than you originally started with. BAD IDEA! So what do you do?


In doing research to find the answer, I searched on the Internet using these terms: "control unwanted Aiptasia Aquarium." You could have used many similar words and come up with suggestions about what to do. And here’s one simple solution I discovered: Purchase a small, colorful animal called a peppermint shrimp. A peppermint shrimp in an aquarium is part of what’s called "the cleanup crew." It likes to eat leftover food that you feed to the fish. It also has an interesting taste for…guess what?? It eats Aiptasia anemones!

And that’s exactly what I did. I purchased two peppermint shrimp and put them in my small reef aquarium. The next morning I looked in and the Aiptasia was gone. It worked exactly as I had read. The peppermint shrimp ate the Aiptasia and I have two new colorful members of the new cleanup crew, my new heroes, peppermint shrimp.



Posted by: Seymour Simon

(1) Comments  •   Labels: SeeMore Explorers, Coral Reefs, Oceans   •  Permalink (link to this article)

February 26, 2013

Yesterday, I posted a story called "Mysterious Visitor in my Aquarium," about finding an unexpected living thing in my aquarium. I wrote about how I figured out what it is, and said that in my next post, I will tell you all what I am going to do about it.

Today, I heard from Mrs. Sposito’s class in Menands, New York. Her students are regular visitors here, and this is what they wrote:

Hello Mr. Simon,

            How many tentacles did the pest anemone have? What color was the anemone? We took a class survey and predicted that you would take the pest anemone out of your tank. We can’t wait to hear what you decided to do with the pest.

Your friends,

Mrs. Sposito’s First Grade Class

Menands School


Hmmmmm…..good questions. This is a picture of what it looked like. It is called an Aiptasia anemone, which probably came in as a "hitchhiker," on a rock or plant that I put in. It is a reddish brown color, but it is far in the back, behind some rocks, so I can’t say for sure how many tentacles it had.  

These creatures are not easy to remove. Stand by for the end of the story. I think you will be surprised to hear how I solved this problem!


Photo: Debbie Hauter

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(0) Comments  •   Labels: SeeMore Explorers, Coral Reefs, Oceans, Kids Write   •  Permalink (link to this article)

February 25, 2013

I’ve kept freshwater aquariums for many years and I’ve always enjoyed setting them up and keeping them going. But it’s been a long time since I’ve set up a saltwater (marine) aquarium. Nearly forty years ago I even wrote a book titled TROPICAL SALTWATER AQUARIUMS but technology and our understanding of keeping aquariums have changed. So when I decided to set up a new saltwater aquarium, I pretty much had to start from the beginning.

I had just finished writing my new book about CORAL REEFS and I wanted to see if I could keep some kinds of coral in an aquarium, so I decided that I would set up a reef aquarium. A reef aquarium contains both fishes and some kinds of coral and other invertebrates as well. My aquarium has been going for about two months now and everything seems to be going fine. I have two saltwater fish (a clown fish and a yellow tailed blue damsel), an anemone (called a bubble-tipped anemone), hermit crabs and several kinds of coral.

Imagine my surprise the other day when I saw a new kind of living thing in the tank; something I had never put into the tank. I pulled out my LED flashlight to take a better look and saw that the mysterious visitor had a central trunk and then a top with many waving tentacles. I imagine that it come in as a hitchhiker on some rocks or plants that I had put into the tank. So I decided to try to find out what it was and whether it was a welcome or unwelcome intruder. I used the SeeMore Explorers Observation Log and wrote down what I saw.

Well, the mysterious visitor turned out to be a kind of anemone and a very unwelcome one at that. You can read how I found out on the observation log (below). As to what I did then, you’ll have to read that on my next installment on the blog! 


Posted by: Seymour Simon

(3) Comments  •   Labels: SeeMore Explorers, Animals, Coral Reefs, Oceans   •  Permalink (link to this article)

February 12, 2013

In honor of Valentine’s Day, our Cool Photo of the Week is this shot of a Pygmy Seahorse.




These tiny creatures are found in the waters off Southeast Asia. They live on soft corals or grasses which they use as camouflage.

These are some of the smallest seahorse species in the world - most are less than 2 centimetres (0.79 inches) tall.










This second photo, published by Ali Watters on TravelBlog, shows just how tiny  the pygmy seahorse is - about the size of the fingernail on his pinky finger!


Happy Valentine’s Day to all our readers! 

Posted by: Liz Nealon

(2) Comments  •   Labels: Animals, Coral Reefs, Oceans, Cool Photo, Holidays   •  Permalink (link to this article)

February 5, 2013

Today’s Cool Photo of the Week is a Porcupinefish. They are found in warm tropical waters all over the world.

People often refer to them as "blowfish" because of their ability to make their body bigger and rounder by swallowing air or water. This reduces the number of predators to fish or animals with very large mouths. They even have a backup defense mechanism - those sharp spines, which stick out when the fish is inflated. Some of them have poison in their internal organs, another reason to avoid them. As you can imagine, this fish has very few predators.

Porcupinefish are just one of the fascinating creatures found in coral reefs, which is the subject of my new book, coming out at the end of April. These reefs are like huge cities under the sea, teeming with inhabitants from fish to plants to a wide variety of invertebrates like coral. I loved studying about them as I was writing the book, and I think you will be amazed by some of the photographs! 

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(1) Comments  •   Labels: New Books, Coral Reefs, Oceans, Cool Photo, Fish   •  Permalink (link to this article)

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