Writing Samples

Life on a Rim Reef

A dazzling aquamarine dream

The reef sparkles with life
The rim reef dazzles with plants and animals in all shapes, sizes and colours. Among brain corals are flowery anemones, red or blue sponges and spiky rock scallops. You may see brilliant stoplight parrotfish munching on algae or damselfish busily protecting their territories. Above the reef, silvery barracuda and bar jacks scan for prey.

More hidden within
A coral reef isn’t solid. It’s a maze of cracks, crevices, tunnels and caves that offers refuge from predators, wave surge and bright sunlight. On the underside of corals lives a tiny single-celled animal (the red foram) that makes a lovely pink shell. Broken bits of this shell give Bermuda sands their rosy colour.

©2015 Bermuda Aquarium, Museum and Zoo


Did you know…?
You’re a bag of water

 About 65% of your body is water
Did you know that every time you breathe, water escapes from your body? When you play or it’s a hot day, you lose even more. That’s one reason you’ll need water today. But it’s not the only one.

Water keeps your body running smoothly. It flows inside you like a river, moving nutrients and wastes from one place to another. You and every other living thing need water.

Did you know…?
Fish share your bath water

 Save water and save wildlife
Rivers and lakes supply most of the fresh water that people in the United States use. Do you know where your bath water comes from? Probably from the San Dieguito River, or a river like it.

You share the water from the San Dieguito River with others. Fish swim in the river, birds nest along its banks, and crabs hide in the lagoon. What if people used up all the water? The plants and animals here would lose their wetlands homes.

©2008 San Dieguito River Park


The Gulf of Mexico: Our backyard ocean

The vast, warm, bountiful Gulf of Mexico is as complex as its 250 million-year history. Along its edge, rivers and lush wetlands interrupt sandy beaches. Offshore, an extensive, resource-rich continental shelf rims the basin. At the shelf’s edge ancient limestone cliffs drop onto dark abyssal plains. The Gulf has shaped its people and people have shaped today’s Gulf. Venture into this familiar and fascinating ocean in your backyard.

©2016 Moody Gardens


Some animals multiply by dividing

Though it helps to be fixed to a rock when a wave pounds you, you’re stuck when you need a mate. Some animals solve this problem by reproducing without partners; they simply make clones.

Aggregating anemones split—where there was one, now there are two. Sponges can bud off pieces of themselves to make little sponges.

©1984 Monterey Bay Aquarium


It’s a microbe-eat-microbe world

Viruses infect more than just people. They infect bacteria, too. Some viruses (called bacteriophages) use bacteria as incubators. A virus attaches to a host bacterium and injects its genes, which tell the bacterium to make more viruses. Then the new viruses burst from the bacterium. Because these viruses kill their hosts, they may become a tool to fight bacterial infections.

Microbes Traveling Exhibit ©1997 BBH Exhibits, Inc. (now Evergreen Exhibitions)


Heavy-duty Feet

A six-ton elephant is sure-footed on land and in water.

Cushions soften steps
With each step, cushions of fiber and fat in the feet support tons of weight and act as shock absorbers.

Walking on tiptoes
Stand on your tiptoes and take a step. As this x-ray shows, elephants walk on tiptoes hidden in padded feet.

Fit for traction
The ridges and pits you feel give traction for walking up trails, through meadows and across rivers. An elephant’s footpad is tough, but also sensitive to the touch.

©2014 Oregon Zoo


Madagascan stick insect
Sipyloidea sipylus

Long Label

Where does the stick end and the insect begin? Over 2,700 species of these insects live among sticks, twigs and leaves, hidden by their shape and color. If camouflage fails, this species has a secret weapon—a nasty chemical that it sprays at intruders.

Short Label

Stick insects live among twigs, leaves and sticks camouflaged by body shape and color. If camouflage fails, this one sprays a foul liquid.

©2008 California Academy of Sciences