Classroom Discussion Activity

Jellies Down Deep

Increasingly, marine researchers are finding that there are far more jellies and jellyfish in the world’s oceans than previously thought. Indeed, these creatures may play an unexpectedly large role in ocean ecosystems. This Bio Bulletin, which features spectacular underwater footage, follows scientists at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) as they retrieve jellies from the deep.

Class Discussion

Establish Prior Knowledge
Ask students to share what they know about the life in the deep sea. Discuss the challenges of studying this part of the planet. (For more information about ROVs (remotely operated vehicles) and other underwater research vessels, go to “MBARI: Marine Operations: Vessels and Vehicles” at http://www.mbari.org/dmo/vessels.htm). Point out that there is much that remains unknown about the deep sea, including numerous life forms still to be discovered.

Exploration
Have students watch the video and read the synopsis. Use the following questions to guide a class discussion:
• What are scientists learning about the population and diversity of jellies?
• Why is the area just off the California coast such a good site for scientific study?
• How does the ROV optimize scientific study? What does it allow scientists to do that they couldn’t do before?
• What have the researchers at MBARI learned so far?
• What are the physical features of jellies, and how do these features help jellies survive in their habitats?
• What are some basic questions the researchers at MBARI are trying to answer about jellies?
• What is bioluminescence, and what function does it serve for animals living deep in the ocean’s depths?

Wrap-Up
Use the following question to wrap up your discussion.
• Why is the study of jellies important?

Extend
Invite students who wish to learn more about jellies and deep sea exploration to visit these websites:
SeaWiFS: Teachers Resources
http://seawifs.gsfc.nasa.gov/SEAWIFS/TEACHERS/
Find out why and how NASA scientists study Earth’s oceans from space.
JPL Earth: Ocean Motion
http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/earth/ocean_motion/ocean_motion_index.cfm
Read all about the tools and techniques that NASA scientists use to study Earth’s ocean.
Hydrothermal Environments on the Ocean Floor
http://www.resa.net/nasa/ocean_hydrothermal.htm
Learn about the mysterious life forms that thrive in the sunless and barren environments of deep sea hydrothermal vents.