Label: Coral Reefs

May 4, 2012

Occasionally we receive such a strong piece of Writing Wednesday work that we publish it for everyone to read. This excellent piece of research and writing was done by Miss Kyle’s 4th Grade Class at Shoemaker Elementary school in Macungie, PA. Terrific work, everybody!  


All of the creatures in this picture are alive and exist in a symbiotic relationship. Being close to the same color helps the coral and the goby fish to work together. The coral reproduces among itself and is always creating a new habitat, as well as food, for the sea creatures, The coral becomes shelter for the fish and at the same time provides protection from predators. These predators might include; dolphins, whales, sharks, larger fish, jelly fish and crabs. The sea anemone hiding inside the coral is poisonous to other fish and makes predators stay away from the goby’s hiding place. In summary, these creatures all depend on one another to be able to survive in the ocean.


Posted by: Seymour Simon

(0) Comments  •   Labels: Writing Wednesday, Coral Reefs, Fish   •  Permalink (link to this article)

May 2, 2012

Welcome to Writing Wednesday! Every week there is a new opportunity to publish your own creative writing on the Seymour Science blog.

This week, we are asking you to describe the scene in this photograph, using what you know or what you can learn about life on Coral Reefs.

The Facts: The fish in this photograph are Yellownose gobies, and one is peeking out from its hiding spot inside the folds of a brain coral.  

Your assignment: Write a paragraph explaining the relationship between the animals. Which one needs the other to provide camouflage? What predators is it being protected from?

How to make your writing powerful: Coral reefs are like underwater cities, teeming with life. Use descriptive details to make this ocean world come alive for your reader.


When you are finished writing, click on the yellow "Comments" at the bottom of this post to enter your writing.


Photo: Todd Minthz

Posted by: Liz Nealon

(3) Comments  •   Labels: Writing Wednesday, Coral Reefs, Oceans, Fish   •  Permalink (link to this article)

January 27, 2012

Thank you, Center Moriches students, for all your thank you notes and great comments after my visit this week. I loved meeting you all, too.

Makayla, Claire K., Richie and the kids in Room 30 all wrote to ask the same question, so I thought I would answer it here. The question is: WHAT IS MY FAVORITE OF ALL THE BOOKS THAT I HAVE WRITTEN?

I have written so many books that I am not sure of the exact count….but I know it is getting close to 300! I can never say which is my favorite book - it is like a parent picking his favorite child. If I say which one is my favorite, all the other books will be mad at me!

Actually, whatever book I am working on at the moment is my "favorite," because I get caught up in how fascinating each topic is. I’ve just finished a book on CORAL REEFS, and I learned so much about these busy "cities under the sea" - you would be amazed at the diversity of life that thrives in a coral reef. So at the moment, that is my "favorite book."

If you click on "play" in this photograph, you can see a little bit of video of all the living creatures in a coral reef. Isn’t it magnificent?

Makayla added a few other questions which I will answer for you here, too.

1. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE COLOR?  Since I was a kid I have had two favorite colors, and they are both the colors of nature. One is almost indescribable - the warm, pumpkin-like, mix of orange colors that you see in autumn. My other favorite color is the deep purple that you sometimes see in sunset clouds.

2. DO YOU HAVE ANY CHILDREN?  My two sons are both grown - one is a television director, and one is a college professor, in Computer Sciences. My stepdaughter is still in college, studying Literature and History. And I have four grandchildren whom I try to visit as often as I can.

3. WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO BE AN AUTHOR?  I read a book called THE SEA AROUND US, by Rachel Carson. She is a wonderful writer, I absolutely loved the book, and by the time I finished it, I had realized that I wanted to write about the natural world. I started writing for children because that is where my area of expertise was - I was a middle school science teacher for many years.

Thank you to all the book lovers at Clayton Huey Elementary School for your very warm welcome. I loved your caution to "Drive Safely!" when I left. What a warm, caring group of students and teachers. Keep reading, and please click on "Comments" and write to me any time to tell me what you are reading and thinking about.

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(1) Comments  •   Labels: New Books, Becoming a writer, School Visits, Coral Reefs, Seymour Simon   •  Permalink (link to this article)

June 21, 2011

Being a sea slug may not sound like a very glamorous station in life, but they are among the most colorful animals on Earth. This beauty is known as a Spanish Shawl (Flabellina iodinea).

Actually, sea slug is the casual name we often use, but this is technically a nudibranch, which means "naked gills." They come in many different shapes and colors, live in huge numbers in shallow waters near the shore, and they are invertebrates, which means that they do not have a spine.


Nudibranchs lost their shells through the course of evolution, which required them to develop a whole range of other kinds of protection. Most species have poisonous appendages sticking out from their bodies, as you see in this photo. They also tend to have very intense, bright coloring - "warning coloration" - which alerts other animals to the fact that they either taste bad, or may even be poisonous if eaten. Others are camouflaged because they look very similar to the plants around them. And if that weren’t enough, their skin releases a slimy, sour liquid when they are touched by another creature. Sea slugs are definitely a "look but don’t touch" kind of animal!


Here is another beauty, a black-spotted nudibranch (Phyllidiopsis papilligera). This one was photographed in shallow waters off the coast of Haiti.


Readers often ask me which is my favorite book of all the ones I have written. I can never say which I like the best (that’s like choosing among your children!), but my favorite at any given moment tends to be whatever animal I am writing about. These days I am working on a new book called CORAL REEFS. So, I am fascinated by all these marine animals who live in the vast "cities under the sea" that we know as the coral reefs. They are some of the most diverse, and certainly among the most magnificent, ecosystems on Earth. 



Spanish Shawl photo: Magnus Kiaergaard

Black-Spotted Nudibranch photo: Nick Hobgood



Posted by: Seymour Simon

(7) Comments  •   Labels: Animals Nobody Loves, Animals, Coral Reefs, Cool Photo   •  Permalink (link to this article)

May 10, 2011

Regular Seymour Science readers know that we do this every Tuesday…...and isn’t this trumpetfish photo a beauty?!

I am particularly interested in the trumpetfish (Aulostomus maculatus) these days because I am working on a new book about CORAL REEFS. Trumpetfish live in coral reefs, and they often swim vertically (straight up and down, as you see here) as a way of camouflaging themselves. They want to blend in with tall coral like sea rods and pipe sponges so that they can sneak up on unsuspecting prey. They catch their food by lying so still that they look like a stick, and then sucking up passing fish into their mouths.

These fish grow to be about 36 inches (just under one meter) long. If you spread both your arms out as wide as they can go, that is about the size of a full-grown trumpetfish.


Photo: Nick Hobgood 

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Posted by: Seymour Simon

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

February 11, 2011


Scientists have discovered that baby crustaceans - lobsters, crabs, shrimps, and barnacles - can hear, and they listen to underwater noise to protect themselves from predators.

Even though these baby shellfish are only the size of the flea, they have a hearing system that lets them hear grunts, smacks and gurgles made by fish and other larger creatures that would otherwise eat them.

Coral Reefs are the big "cities" of the ocean - teeming with fish and other marine life. "The coral reef is like a ‘wall of mouths’ to these animals, so when they hear noise, they avoid it," says Dr Steve Simpson, a marine biologist at the University of Bristol. "Otherwise, they’d always be eaten by fish."

Why does the fact that a tiny shellfish is able to hear matter to us? Humans make a lot of noise in the ocean, from boat engines to activities like dynamite fishing and deepwater drilling. If our loud noises mask the crucial natural sounds near coral reefs, vulnerable larvae will be in danger of being consumed by larger predators. Why should this matter? Humans are part of the web of life on our planet Earth. Each kind of life is like a single strand in the web. By itself, no one strand may seem so important. But all the strands make up the web and the weekness of one strand weekens the entire web.



Posted by: Seymour Simon

(4) Comments  •   Labels: science news, Animals, Coral Reefs, Oceans, Conservation   •  Permalink (link to this article)

October 14, 2010

Seymour wears shirt

I am wearing my favorite shirt today - a drawing of planet Earth with a "Saving" status bar below, registering about 30%. Saving Earth is something I find myself thinking about nearly every day…..especially when I read the news and see how many of the predictions of the consequences of global warming are coming to pass.

2010 has been a year of weather extremes - huge snowfalls in places that normally don’t get much snow at all, a deadly heat wave this summer in Russia leading to fires that killed 700 people per day, and unprecedented flooding in Pakistan that has affected 21 million people (1-out-of-8 Pakistanis), leaving at least 6 million people homeless and an area the size of Italy underwater.

Scientists say that the devastating floods in Pakistan and Russia’s heatwave were both the kind of extremes caused by global warming. We don’t know enough to blame manmade pollution and the greenhouse effect for directly causing any single, specific weather disaster, but we are certainly seeing an escalating pattern of climate extremes that are most likely part of a change in Earth’s climate, caused by global warming.

How is it that we get both extreme drought and extreme precipitation, even huge amounts of snow, when temperatures are increasing? The reasons that droughts are getting worse is pretty obvious for areas that generally have little rainfall - when the temperature gets hotter, drought conditions get even worse. But extreme rain and snow? Well, there is a physical law (it’s called the Clausius-Clapeyron relation, for those of you who want to look it up!) which established that the water-holding capacity of the atmosphere increases by about 7% for every 1°C rise in temperature. Because precipitation comes mainly from weather systems that feed on the water vapor stored in the atmosphere, this has generally increased precipitation intensity and the risk of heavy rain and snow events. 

  Timor Coral Reef

2010 has also been a very bad year for our planet’s coral reefs. Mark Eakin, coordinator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Coral Reef Watch, said high ocean temperatures in 2010 are causing corals to whiten, or bleach. "Major bleaching started in the Central Pacific in the early part of this year, then there was bleaching in the Indian Ocean and especially Southeast Asia throughout May and June. And now the big concern is that we may be seeing the worst bleaching ever in the Caribbean, later this year." According to NOAA, this thermal stress to corals is the highest it has been since 1998, when 15% of the world’s coral reefs died.

I am about to begin work on a book about coral reefs, which are some of the most biologically diverse and economically valuable ecosystems on earth. Coral reefs are a source of food for millions of people, protect coastlines from storms and erosion; provide habitat for thousands of fish species, and provide many human jobs in both the fishing and tourism industries. In a nutshell, no reefs, no fish. Not...

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Posted by: Seymour Simon

(1) Comments  •   Labels: science news, Global Warming, Climate Change, Coral Reefs, Weather   •  Permalink (link to this article)

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