Merpeople Save The Oceans

This class is a part of a whole series about saving the world / making the world a better place!


Everyone knows that trees and forests such as the Amazon draw CO2 out of the air and not just produce Oxygen for us, but also lower the CO2 in the atmosphere thus reducing greenhouse gasses and global warming. But did you know that oceans do the same and even more?


The oceans have slowed greenhouse warming by absorbing excess heat-trapping carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. But how much we can depend upon the ocean to continue to act as a brake on ever-accumulating CO2  in the future? And will the buildup of CO2 in the ocean change its chemistry, making it more acidic and threatening marine life? And how will it all affect life on the surface?

 

marine life under the sea


If you mention “climate change” to people, it often conjures up images of heat waves, melting glaciers, hurricanes, droughts, and monsoon rains—certainly not changes in the ocean, its chemistry, and tiny plankton inhabitants. But we know that future climate change will largely depend on the chemical composition of the atmosphere and the sea and how vulnerable they are to human perturbation. Understanding how carbon cycles through the Earth systems is key to unravelling vital questions about our climate.

As we all know from boiling up a pan of vegetables for dinner, you have to put in quite a bit of energy to raise the temperature of water: approximately 4,000 Joules to heat a kilogram of water by 1 degree Celsius. And it turns out that Earth's capacity to take up heat is primarily determined by our vast oceans, all 1.4 billion billions tons of them. But only the upper layers of the ocean are well mixed over the course of a year or a decade. Exchanging energy between the surface layers and the deep sea can be a glacially slow process for much of the ocean reducing its capacity to absorb heat.

boy swimming marine life rainbow yoga training

As an ecosystem that covers 70% of the planet, oceans get no respect.

All they’ve done is feed us, provide most of the oxygen we breathe, and protect us from ourselves: Were it not for the oceans, climate change would have already made Earth uninhabitable.


The oceans have gamely absorbed more than 90% of the warming created by humans since the 1970s, a 2016 report found. Had that heat gone into the atmosphere, global average temperatures would have jumped by almost 56 degrees Celsius (100 degrees Fahrenheit).


But as vast as the seas are, there is a limit to how much they can absorb, and they are beginning to show it. 


Below you will find what you need to know to understand the role of the ocean in climate change. In the class plan itself, I have tried to put this information in a more kids friendly digestible way.

 

Pouring CO2 into the sky

Carbon dioxide gas traps long-wave radiation (heat) leaving Earth’s surface, thus raising temperatures. Without the warming caused by natural levels of CO2 and water vapour in our atmosphere, the average surface temperature of our planet would be well below freezing.


Atmospheric CO2 levels have varied greatly over Earth’s history, but human activity is significantly altering the global carbon cycle, and not in a good way. Carbon dioxide is rising because of the burning of fossil fuels (oil, coal, natural gas) and because we alter the land through increased farming and the destruction of tropical forests and plants that take up CO2 during photosynthesis.

carbon dioxide co2 emissions global warming climate change

 

As a result, CO2 levels are increasing faster than at almost any other time in planetary history. Atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations are already 30% higher than just a couple of centuries ago. Most climate models project that they will reach 2 to 3.5 times pre-industrial levels by the end of this century unless dramatic steps are taken to reduce CO2 emissions.


This higher CO2 will bring warmer temperatures. Climate models predict that global temperatures will increase by 3.5°F to 8°F (1.9o C to 4.4o C) by the year 2100—and even more in the Arctic and Alaska. Beyond the temperature rise, a warmer climate is expected to shift rainfall and drought patterns, which will have even greater consequences for people, wildlife, and ecosystems.

 

under the sea corals

 

The Sea Sink

Not all of the excess CO2 we humans emit stays in the atmosphere. The ocean, and to some extent the land, act as large “carbon sinks” that significantly slow the accumulation of atmospheric CO2 and the resulting climate change.


To date, about one-third of all human-generated carbon emissions have dissolved into the ocean. How fast the ocean can remove CO2 from the air depends on both atmospheric CO2 levels and ocean circulation and mixing—in the same way that the sugar dissolving in iced tea depends on how much you put in and how fast you stir. More CO2 in the air leads to more in the ocean; faster circulation increases the volume of water exposed to higher CO2 levels in the air and thus increases uptake by the ocean.

 

air pollution gas emissions fossil fuel

What’s in store for the ocean?

The question for policy-makers and society is “Will the ocean continue to take up anthropogenic CO2?” Our best evidence is that it will—but less effectively because of interactions between the ocean and the evolving climate.


Several factors come into play. Global warming will inevitably cause seawater temperatures to rise. Warmer water holds less dissolved gas than colder water, so the ocean will not be able to store as much CO2.


A warmer climate will also melt ice and increase rainfall near the poles, adding freshwater to the ocean. Freshwater is more buoyant than saltier water and “floats” on top of it, stratifying the ocean and slowing the mixing and circulation that transports CO2 away from the surface and into reservoirs in the deep ocean. The net effect will be even higher CO2 concentrations and a further acceleration of global warming.

 

polar bear melted ice caps climate change global warm seas


Warmer temperatures, weaker circulation, and different stratification of the ocean will have impacts on marine life and ecosystems, which in turn could affect the ocean’s ability to store carbon. How these changes may occur is not clear at this point, however, and may vary from region to region.

 

A more acidic ocean

The increasing amount of carbon in the ocean will cause another problem for marine life: ocean acidification. The 3% increase in dissolved carbon in surface water may seem small, but it is enough to significantly alter the chemistry of seawater and threaten whole groups of marine life.

The reason involves some basic chemistry. When CO2 gas dissolves in seawater, it combines with water molecules (H2O) to form carbonic acid (H2CO3). The acid releases hydrogen ions into the water. The more hydrogen ions in a solution, the more acidic it becomes. Hydrogen ions in ocean surface waters are now 25% higher than in the pre-industrial era, with an additional 75% increase projected by 2100.

A carbon-containing mineral, calcium carbonate (CaCO3), is a vital component in the ocean, used by many marine creatures to build protective shells and hard structures. Coral reefs, for example, are the accumulation of calcium carbonate skeletons secreted by small coral polyps.

clown fish nemo coral reef

Calcium carbonate shells are also used by several groups of planktonic organisms, microscopic floating plants and animals that are critical and abundant components of the marine food web. The white chalk cliffs of Dover, for example, are made out of empty shells that sank to the bottom of the sea when these organisms died.

The problem is, acidic conditions are corrosive to already formed calcium carbonate, and they also make it harder for organisms to build such hard parts in the first place.

 

chart global warming climate change

 

Consequences for marine life

Will corals and shell-forming plankton be able to adapt to a high-CO2 world? We do not know for certain, but preliminary evidence from laboratory and field experiments is not encouraging.

Higher acidity has a negative impact on almost every species examined. In some experiments, you can actually watch the shells of living organisms dissolve away with time.

coral bleaching dead corals

Especially vulnerable are small marine snails called pteropods and deep-water corals that live in high latitudes, where colder waters have already become more acidic. These species play critical roles in their ecosystems—like food or habitat for other creatures—so the impact of ocean acidification may soon extend to other marine life, including fish and marine mammals.


Consequences for surface life

Coastal ecosystems like mangroves, salt marshes and seagrasses play a vital role in carbon storage and sequestration. Per unit of area, they sequester carbon faster and far more efficiently than terrestrial forests. When these ecosystems are degraded, lost or converted, massive amounts of CO2 – an estimated 0.15-1.02 billion tons every year – are released into the atmosphere or ocean, accounting for up to 19% of global carbon emissions from deforestation. The ecosystem services such as flood and storm protection that they provide are also lost.

 

flooding climate change global warming consequences

 

The impacts of ocean warming and acidification on coastal and marine species and ecosystems are already observable. For example, the current amount of CO2 in the atmosphere is already too high for coral reefs to thrive, putting at risk food provision, flood protection and other services corals provide. Moreover, increased GHG emissions exacerbate the impact of already existing stressors on coastal and marine environments from land-based activities (e.g. urban discharges, agricultural runoff and plastic waste) and the ongoing, unsustainable exploitation of these systems (e.g. overfishing, deep-sea mining and coastal development). These cumulative impacts weaken the ability of the ocean and coasts to continue to perform critical ecosystem services.

overfishing industrial fishing unsustainable

 The degradation of coastal and marine ecosystems threatens the physical, economic and food security of coastal communities – around 40% of the world population. Weakened or even lost ecosystems increase human vulnerability in the face of climate change and undermine the ability of countries to implement climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction measures.

 

What can be done?

The sustainable management, conservation and restoration of coastal and marine ecosystems are vital to support the continued provision of carbon sequestration and other ecosystem services on which people depend.


Besides everything we already know we need to do on the earth’s surface to reduce greenhouse gasses emissions, we can talk here about Marine Protected Areas, protection and restoration of coastal ecosystems, implementation of sustainable practices in all industries that impact the ocean and coasts, including fisheries and the tourism industry, globally ambitious efforts are also needed to reduce the use of fossil fuels, increase the use of renewable energy systems and enhance energy efficiency. This will reduce the impacts of CO2 and other GHGs on the ocean…


But the most stunning solution both for saving the oceans and mitigating climate change is also the simplest and cheapest - SEAWEED!

 

seaweed marine life sustainable

 

As the Amazon burns, there’s growing interest in cultivating forests that absorb planet-warming carbon emissions, but that are fireproof. That’s because these forests are underwater!


An increasing body of research is documenting the potential of seaweed farming to counter climate change as deforestation decimates rainforests and other crucial carbon sinks. 

The fast-growing oceanic jungles of kelp and other macroalgae are highly efficient at storing carbon. Seaweed also ameliorates acidification, deoxygenation, and other marine impacts of global warming that threaten the biodiversity of the seas and the source of food and livelihood for hundreds of millions of people.


Seaweed aquaculture's carbon sequestration scaling potential is huge!

 

seal on seaweed


Algae is up to 400 times more efficient than a tree at removing CO2 from the atmosphere. That means that while we are learning to reduce carbon emissions and augment our consumption patterns, we can start to make big reductions in atmospheric carbon. 


Trees and algae sequester carbon dioxide naturally. Trees “consume” it as part of their photosynthesis process by “absorbing” carbon into their trunks and roots and releasing oxygen back into the air. 


Algae replicates the same process but “absorbs” the carbon in the form of more algae. Algae can consume more carbon dioxide than trees because it can cover more surface area and grow faster. 

seaweed algae better alternative

Seaweed can be also harvested and used for biofuels, and seaweed biomass can be used to make fertilizer to make crops on land more productive. 


Seaweeds can even be used to make plastics that are biodegradable, and that are a lot less harmful than the plastics that we currently use that stick around on the planet for hundreds of thousands of years.


Seaweeds produce compounds that have been investigated for use in antibiotics, cancer drugs and anti-inflammatories. Seaweed is a nutritious, sustainable vegan food. Growing it can even clean up polluted waters. 


Seaweeds and seaweed-based products have the potential to usher in enormous environmental benefits. By removing carbon dioxide from the ocean, seaweeds decrease harmful ocean acidification resulting from man-made carbon emissions. Seaweeds also remove excess phosphorus and nitrogen that collects in waterways as a result of fertilizer runoff, a condition called eutrophication that can cause toxic algal blooms and wildlife dead zones.

 

seaweed farming sustainable option 

 

And unlike conventional agriculture, seaweed farming doesn’t require fresh water, fertilizer or external inputs, so there’s no need to clear land to cultivate it. The sustainability of seaweed is why researchers and entrepreneurs are investigating ways to scale up its production for a variety of goods — including food, fuel, pharmaceuticals and packaging — that can reduce greenhouse gas emissions and replace some of the plastic products that pollute oceans.


Read and watch more about the power of seaweed to heal the earth here https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20210406-how-kelp-can-help-solve-climate-change and here https://www.abc.net.au/catalyst/can-seaweed-save-the-world/11017106


This class is designed for 90 minutes but it’s easy to skip a few games and make it shorter. 


There is SO MUCH infor here, but people (including young ones) should know - Make it age appropriate though :-)


Bring: Magic Wand, Parachute or a Cloth (blue preferred), Plush Toys, Yoga Belts, Dice, BroomStick, Ribbons/Streamers, Soap Bubbles


Intro In Mermaid Poses

mermaid pose intro

While gently stretching and relaxing in the mermaid poses below, have a discussion about the oceans and their importance in our ecosystem:

As an ecosystem that covers 70% of the planet, oceans get no respect.

All they’ve done is feed us, provide most of the oxygen we breathe, and protect us from ourselves: Were it not for the oceans, climate change would have already made Earth uninhabitable.

The oceans have gamely absorbed more than 90% of the warming created by humans. Had that heat gone into the atmosphere, global average temperatures would have jumped by almost 56 degrees Celsius (100 degrees Fahrenheit). That would have certainly been the end of us and all life as we know it on earth.

But as vast as the seas are, there is a limit to how much they can absorb, and they are beginning to show it - Therefore, we must do our part to save the oceans!

mermaid pose rainbow kids yoga teacher training

Mermaid - Reclining back on your elbows and forearms, bend your knees, keep your feet together on the floor, and roll them to one side to twist your body. After a few deep breaths, bring your knees to the other side.

 

 

Fun in this pose: 

  • Flutter with your eyelids as a mermaid would
  • Swish your mermaid tail slowly from side to side

side bend mermaids rainbow yoga training

Side Bending Mermaid - Simply raise your arm in the mermaid pose and take a long stretch to the other side, try stretching on both sides and see which feels the best.

 

Becoming Mermaids & Merman - Today we are going to be mermaids and mermen saving the oceans! 


Are you ready?


I have a magic wand here that will turn you into the most beautiful mermaid that you are… 


Close your eyes and feel your legs shimmering with magic and turning into a beautiful sparkly mermaid tail.


Bubbles Breath - To receive the ability to breathe underwater, inhale and lift your arms up as you fill a big underwater bubble with air… Then the teacher pops the students’ bubbles by poking them... And exhale with horse lips sound as the bubble deflates and the arms and the whole body flops down.


Repeat 5-10 times.


5 Minutes

 

Wave Sun Dance

First, do the wave just like in a soccer game with each participant raising their hands up and saying OLA! (it means a wave in Spanish) at their turn in the circle. Let it go around a few times before continuing with a variety of fun poses to circle in the wave.


I like to “wave” with the arms or the whole body in as many poses as I can such as Extended Mountain, Warrior Pose, Goddess… I even do a breakdance “Worm” from plank.


5 Minutes


Higher Temperatures Are Bad For Fish 

So this is how this class plan is going to work; in each section, we’ll discuss the issues how we the merpeople can help. We’ll do some yoga too so it is all experiential learning that maximized the impact on our beautiful students, cool?


I would suggest doing a few poses/games with each fact here so that there is not too much talking all at the same time.

Persistently rising temperatures are having a cavalcade of effects on marine life:

  • Warmer waters cause coral bleaching, which in turn impacts coral reef ecosystems that are home to most of the ocean’s biodiversity

  • Warmer waters threaten to cause mass migration of marine species in search of the right conditions for feeding and spawning.

  • Changes in water temperatures can directly affect the development and growth of most fish and cephalopods (such as octopus and squid).


Fish - Sit with your legs straight in front of you and bring your hands, palms down, under your bottom with your fingers pointing toward your legs. Lean backward so that you can rest your elbows and forearms on the mat. Lift your chest up and bring your head all the way back until the top of your head touches the mat. Try to keep most of the weight on your elbows and arms, with less weight on your head.

fish pose rainbow kids yoga training

 

Breathe slowly and deeply… Make a fish face or move your mouth like a fish


As a variation, you can engage your abdominals and lift your legs up on a 45° angle


You can also do this pose with crossed legs or in Lotus (then it can be a special kind of fish), and hold your toes 


Did you know?


  • Fish are always opening and closing their mouths. This movement brings water into their gills, where they extract oxygen from the water to breathe
  • The fastest fish is the Sailfish, which swims at 72KM or 45 MPH!
  • There are some fish that can live outside of the water for months! The Killifish in India, for example, can alter the way it breathes, and spends several months of every year out of the water, living in trees

Wacky Ocean Tag – Play tag, but have the teacher call out crazy actions, like “swim like a fish”. Everyone (including the player who is “It”) plays tag while pretending to swim like a fish. Make a list of crazy actions (hop on one foot, run backwards, be an octopus, move like seaweed, sting like jellyfish, play like dolphins, move like crabs etc.) before so you’ll have lots of funny ideas.


School of Fish Game - In groups of 3, create a triangle (keeping a meter and a half apart for social distancing) and always follow the movements of the person on the front. 


Each time the leader in the front changes direction of where they face in the room, who is in front changes and they become the new leader.


As you move and switch leaders, explore different movements… Move like people swimming or surfing, like sharks, like octopus, like fishermen, like mermaids… Best if the teacher calls out the different themes to move in every minute or so. Have fun!


10 Minutes


Polar Ice Is Melting

In what has become a dismal annual ritual, wintertime Arctic sea ice continues to dip to new lows as the oceans warm. Meanwhile, Antarctica is shrinking from underneath, as submerged ice is rapidly melting.

The effects of this warming on iconic species such as polar bears are well-documented. Under the surface, though, the problem is no less urgent:

  • The production of algae — the foundation of the Arctic food web — depends on the presence of sea ice. As sea ice diminishes, algae diminishes, which has ripple effects on species from Arctic cod to seals, whales and bears.

  • Diminished sea ice results in the loss of vital habitat for seals, walruses, penguins, whales and other megafauna.

  • Sea ice is a critical habitat for Antarctic krill, the food source for many seabirds and mammals in the Southern Ocean. In recent years, as sea ice has diminished, Antarctic krill populations have declined, resulting in declines in the species dependent on the krill.


Krill - It may be small, but the Antarctic Krill is one of the most important animals in the Antarctic food chain. This small, shrimp-like crustacean is found in vast numbers in the Southern Ocean, forming groups called swarms which can be seen from space.

krill animal arctic

Antarctic Krill grow to around 6 cm (2.4 in). Krill is eaten by many other Antarctic animals, including whales, seals and seabirds.


The total biomass (weight) of all of the Antarctic Krill in the world is thought to be larger than that of any other species.


In 1981 a swarm of krill was tracked by scientists that were estimated at being up to 10 million tonnes!


This is the equivalent of about 143 million people (at an average of 70kg each) or more than the entire populations of the UK and Germany combined (and wandering around together).


From sitting, bring one heel against the opposite hip. Take your other leg and place it over the bottom leg, bringing the heel against its opposite hip. Bend forward to rest on your legs. Place one hand behind your back, bringing it from the top, and the other hand behind your back bringing it from the bottom, and hold hands. This will give you a nice stretch to the shoulders and chest! Switch your legs and hands after a few breaths. 


Fun in this pose:

  • If you can’t reach your hands, you can grab your shirt 
  • You can try an easier hand position by placing your hands under your feet and using your palms as sea turtle fins

Whales - It has been estimated that during the feeding season in Antarctica, a full-grown blue whale eats about 4 million krill per day (krill are small shrimp-like creatures), that's 3600 kg or 4 tons - every day for 6 months. Having laid down a layer of fat from this feeding activity in Antarctica, they then starve for several months.


Lie down on your belly with your legs together and your arms straight out in front. With a deep breath in, lift up your hands, chest, and legs. Your body is a long whale body now, and your arms are a big big jaw!


Fun in this pose:

  • Open and close your whale jaw by moving your arms
  • Move the whale’s big tail fin by bringing the legs from side to side or up and down
  • Rock up and down on your belly like a whale diving in the ocean; you must keep your whole body long and strong to do this!
  • Blow imaginary water from the blowhole in your back
  • You can use this pose as a transition pose by being blown through the whale’s blowhole and landing somewhere new (maybe on a beach or an island); of course, jump as you do it!

penguin antartica

Penguins - Penguins are distinctive flightless birds of the Southern Hemisphere. Their wings have evolved into flippers, which they use to ‘fly’ through the water in pursuit of krill, fish, and other prey.


Five species of penguin breed on Antarctica. These are the: Emperor penguin, Chinstrap penguin, Adélie penguin, Gentoo penguin and Macaroni penguin.


Other penguin species, such as the King Penguin and the Rockhopper Penguin are also found on subantarctic islands near Antarctica.


This pose should be done on a padded surface only; never do it straight on the floor! Kneel and lift one foot at a time toward your bottom, holding your ankles with your hands. Balance on your knees. You are a penguin!


Fun in this pose:

  • Walk like a penguin (just mind your knees!)
  • For a more gentle variation, keep your feet on the mat and put your hands on your shoulders... much easier!

Seals - Seals are marine mammals in the Pinniped group of animals. (Marine mammals are mammals that either live in the sea or whose lifestyle is reliant on the sea.)


Seals are found all around the world, but most species prefer colder regions. Seals found in the Antarctic include the Southern Elephant Seal – the world’s largest carnivoran, and the Crabeater Seal – the world’s commonest seal. Other Antarctic seals include the Antarctic Fur Seal, Leopard Seal, Ross Seal and Weddell Seal.


Lie on your back, knees bent. Bend your elbows and clap with your flippers like a sea lion!


Fun in this pose:


  • You can clap shin to shin and forearm to forearm, or you can clap diagonally; bringing forearm to shin
  • Make sea lion sounds
  • Play with a ball, throwing it from one sea lion to the other (you can try to organize the children so that everyone will have her head at the centre); this is a nice non-competitive group activity

Freeze Yoga Game - Play fun upbeat music and have everybody dance. When you stop the music, everyone stops dancing and freezes in the yoga pose that you have called out.


Fun in this game:


  • Each time the music stops call on a different child to choose the pose for everyone to freeze in; just make sure everyone gets a chance to choose!
  • Ask the children to freeze in their favourite pose; balancing pose / a pose on one leg / upside-down pose / twisting pose / etc...
  • Ask the children to freeze in a pose of their own invention, a pose that was never seen before! Ask each child the name of their newly created pose.
  • Have the children freeze in pairs or in groups of three or four and instruct them to connect the poses in some way.

Musical Icebergs Game - This is a non-competitive version of the famous game where whoever is left without a chair when the music stops, is out - Kind of what is happening to polar bears with the ice, right?


 In the yoga version, when the music stops you need to do a pose on a yoga mat. If you don’t have your own mat, you need to share it with others. In this way, no one ever goes out of the game, and as you keep taking yoga mats out it just becomes more and more snuggly because there are more children doing poses on fewer yoga mats. 


This game ends when all of the students are doing their yoga poses together on one single mat! FUN!


Fun in this game:


  • Instead of walking or dancing, tell them to waddle like penguins.
  • You can play this game with any yoga pose you like!
  • You can decide on one pose ahead of time, call out a different pose every time the music stops, or let the children choose the poses themselves.
  • Ask the children to move around the room off of their mats, dancing like a designated animal or one of their choice. When the music stops the children have to get onto a mat and into the pose of that animal.
  • Challenge them to create a partner or group poses with their friends that arrive on the mat.

Musical Melting Icecaps Game – You’ll need a dice for this game. Designate six spaces in your yoga space #1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 and place hula hoops or yoga mats at those six locations. The hoops/mats are the icecaps. 


While music is playing, have the kids “swim” around. When the music stops, the kids should move to one of the six icecaps. Roll the dice, and the kids at the corresponding dice number must do some action, such as 10 jumping jacks, running in place for 10 seconds, etc. all because their icecap is melting!


10-15 Minutes

Rising Sea Levels

Climate change poses a dual threat to sea levels.

For one, when land-based polar ice melts, it finds its way to the sea. (Ice that forms in polar seas, on the other hand, doesn’t affect sea levels when it melts.) Second, when water warms, it expands to take up more space — a major yet unheralded cause of sea-level rise.

With sea-level rise accelerating at a rate of about one-eighth of an inch per year, the effects on humanity are plain:

  • Though only 2% of the world’s land lies at or below 10 meters (32 feet) above sea level, these areas contain 10% of the world’s human population, all directly threatened by sea-level rise.

  • Small island nations such as those in the Pacific Ocean stand to be wiped off the map. The people of Kiribati, for example, are among the world’s first refugees of sea-level rise, and two of the nation’s islands have all but disappeared into the ocean.

The effects of sea-level rise on wildlife is less explored but no less important:

  • The survival of coral reefs, mangroves, seagrasses and other critical habitat-forming species hinges on their ability to move into shallower waters. Slow-growing species are most unlikely to be able to keep pace with the rising sea level.

  • Critical coastal habitats — for instance, sea turtle nesting beaches — are lost as the sea level rises. Natural and man-made barriers such as cliffs, sea walls, and coastal developments stand in the way of migrating further inland.


At The Reef & The Shallows:


Seahorse - Kneeling, lift your arms up and round your back to create the shape of a seahorse.


Let your body move in a very smooth and slow way, propelled by the ocean currents


To be a pygmy seahorse (a tiny seahorse that appears in amazing irregular shapes and colors) just sit on your heels as you lift your arms up


 

Did you know?


  • The seahorse is the slowest fish; it reaches a maximum speed of less than 0.001 KM or MPH 
  • Seahorses find their mate and stay with them for life
  • After mating, the female deposits about 200 seahorse eggs into an incubation pocket on the male’s back. The eggs grow there for about a month before the tiny seahorse babies are born. So with seahorses, it is actually the male who is pregnant!

Sea Turtle - From sitting, bring one heel against the opposite hip. Take your other leg and place it over the bottom leg, bringing the heel against its opposite hip. Bend forward to rest on your legs. Place one hand behind your back, bringing it from the top, and the other hand behind your back bringing it from the bottom, and hold hands. This will give you a nice stretch to the shoulders and chest! Switch your legs and hands after a few breaths. 


If you can’t reach your hands, you can grab your shirt .


You can also try an easier hand position by placing your hands under your feet and using your palms as sea turtle fins.


Move your feet as the turtle moves his fins!


Did you know?


  • A long, long time ago, most animals lived in the sea and slowly came to live on land.  Sea turtles are a bit different; they are reptiles who moved from land to live in the sea

Sea Sponge - Sit on your heels and fold your body down resting your belly and chest on your front thighs. Place your arms beside your body. 


Float in the water and roll to your sides, to your back etc...


Did you know?


  • Sea sponges are sedentary organisms that attach themselves to the sea bed and filter nutrients from the water that they force through their porous bodies. They are the most primitive of all multicellular animals, with just four different types of cells. We humans have about 210 distinct types of cells!

Sea Cucumber - This pose can be done standing or lying on your back. Stretch to one side to create the shape of a crooked cucumber. After a few deep breathes, bend to the other side.


Float in the water, rolling all over the floor, or if you are standing, moving around the room.


Did you know?


  • When they are scared, some sea cucumbers throw out their sticky inner organs to distract any predators. Then they can grow new ones!
  • Sea cucumbers have hundreds of tiny suction-cup tube feet that they use to crawl across the sea floor

Blowfish - Lie on your belly and bend your knees, reaching back to hold your ankles with your hands. Inhale deeply and pull your legs with your hands and pull your hands with your legs, bringing your heels far from your bottom and lifting your head, chest, and thighs from the floor. (Bow Pose, Sanskrit name: Dhanurasana).

 

Blow out your cheeks as well!


Roll forward and backward using your breath.... Roll to the side; this is fun because on the side there is no resistance from gravity to go into a deeper backbend, and it’s easier to stretch.


Did you know?


  • Blow fish are usually quite small, but when they are under attack, they puff themselves up so that they are too big to be swallowed!
  • Blowfish have thorns in their skin, and when they inflate, these thorns stick out and they look a bit like a porcupine

Follow the Mermaid Game - Here, all of the sea creatures at the reef and the shallow waters will follow the lead of their mermaid/man queen/king.


Select one child to be the Mermaid/man (you can go first to demonstrate) and form a line behind this child. The Mermaid will swim and move around and all the children have to copy the actions. Put some yoga poses, warmup actions between some dance moves, swimming and anything mermaid you can think of.


Take turns being the Mermaid.

 

Don’t follow the Mermaid - A challenging variation of the above! The Mermaid will move around and all the children have to do the opposite of her actions. Oh Yes!


If Mermaids/Men Got Pushed Out Of The Oceans Because Of Rising Sea Levels - Mermaid Race – Have children lie on the ground and tie their legs together with ribbon or rope (Yoga Belts are great for that!). On “Go”, merpeople all must race to the finish line, while only using their hands to move (because a mermaid doesn’t have legs, right?!) 


This is how mermaids would feel if they find themselves on land!


10-15 Minutes


Warming Oceans Alter Currents

Climate change impacts ocean temperatures as well as wind patterns — taken together, these can alter oceanic currents.

How does this affect wildlife?

Many marine species’ migratory patterns can change as the currents they follow are altered. And many species that depend on ocean currents for reproduction and nutrients will be affected. For example, many reef-building coral and reef fish species rely on the dispersal of their larvae by currents.

The impacts of changes in ocean currents on humanity could be severe, as currents play a major role in maintaining Earth’s climate. For example, Europe’s relatively mild climate is maintained in part by the large Atlantic current called the Gulf Stream, which is experiencing an “unprecedented slowdown.” Changing these currents will have major implications for the climate across the globe, including changes in rainfall — with more rain in some areas causing major floods and much less in others causing droughts and fires — and to air temperatures. These changes have drastic implications for countless species, including humans.


Save the Sea Creatures Game - For this game, you will need a large blue sheet or vinyl tablecloth or a parachute and a collection of plush toy sea creatures (at least one per player). 


Place the sea creatures on the ground and spread the sheet out on top of them. Have the players gather around the sheet, each pick up an edge, and start shaking it to create waves. 


Tell the mermaids/men that changing currents and rising sea levels are scaring away all of the sea creatures from the ocean, and they must work together to rescue them. 


Call out the name of one of the merperson. That person must run under the sheet, pick up one of the sea animals and toss it onto the waves. The mermaids try to bounce it around without letting it fall. Keep calling out names and tossing sea creatures until they have all been returned to the ocean. 


5 Minutes

Climate Change Is Affecting The Chemistry Of Seawater

The same burning of fossil fuels that increases greenhouse gas levels in the atmosphere, is also altering the chemical composition of seawater, making it more acidic. The ocean absorbs 30% of the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere; when that carbon dissolves into the water, it forms carbonic acid.

How does this affect marine life? A lot.

Acidification directly affects ocean life that builds shells of calcium carbonate such as corals, scallops, lobsters and crabs, and some microscopic plankton that are a foundation of the food web throughout the ocean. These shell-forming organisms provide critical habitats and food sources for other organisms. Increased acidification can also limit the ability of certain fish to detect predators, disrupting the food chain.


Clam / Oyster / Shellfish - Sit with the soles of your feet touching and knees out to the sides. Bring your hands over your head with elbows slightly bent and palms together. Now you can close your shell by bending forward and down, and open up again by coming back up to sit upright.

          

For fun, each child can say what she has inside her shell while opening and then closing it again!


Lobster/Shrimp - Lie on your belly and prop your upper body up by placing your elbows on the mat right under your shoulders. Make a lobster claw shape with your palms, and bending your knees, bring your feet up to create the lobster tail.


Use your hands as the lobsters nipper, you can gently reach out and nip your friends!


Move your lobster tail!


Did you know?


  • Lobsters carry their young for nine months, just like people
  • Lobsters can live until they are one hundred years old, just like people
  • Lobsters travel over 161 kilometers or 100 miles a year, sometimes they walk hand in hand with the older ones leading the younger ones

Phytoplankton - Phytoplankton are microscopic plants that drift in the upper layer of the sea. They live off carbon dioxide and obtain energy by photosynthesis. They form an important lower lever of the Antarctic food chain.


Lie on your belly. Bend your knees and hold your ankles. With a deep inhale, use your legs and your arms to help bring your feet up high, lifting your head, chest, and legs off of the floor. Be whatever unique shape of Phytoplankton you are!


Fun in this pose:


  • Before you lift your legs up, you can put your hands on the back of your feet and push your heels gently toward the floor on the sides of your hips. This gives a nice stretch to the front thighs
  • Roll forward and back using your breath
  • Roll to the side; this is fun because there is no resistance from gravity to bring your heels farther from your hips, so it’s easier to stretch… Float around in all directions like this like a Phytoplankton!

Crab - Sit with your knees bent and feet on the floor. Put your hands on the floor behind you and push your hips up, like a tabletop. Keep your body completely straight, from your knees to your shoulders.


Fun in this pose:


  • You can place your palms on the floor with your fingers facing forward and then backward
  • Try lifting one hand up and use it as a crab’s claw, then switch hands
  • Do the same with the legs, and make circles with your raised foot, in both directions
  • Walk like a crab; they walk sideways!
  • To music, do a crab dance using all of the above and adding your own invented movements! 
  • Younger children can sit on their Crab parents as they dance
  • You can also add the Yoga Freeze Game (see Games section) to the crab dance
  • You can morph from Crab to Dog and back again!

Did you know?


  • Most crabs live in water
  • The female crab keeps their eggs inside their body or in the abdominal area; this is also where the eggs hatch (inside their bodies!) before the little crabs come out
  • Hermit Crabs do not have their own shells. They live in shells of other shellfish!

Yoga Crab Tag Game - One (or a few if it is a large group or a large space) is “it”. Everyone, including “it”, moves in the crab pose. When you are caught you come into the Dog Pose (maybe it is like a little cave for the crabs to go hide in). If someone passes underneath you, you become a Crab again. Crabs can move, but Dogs can’t. The game ends when everyone is frozen in Dog Pose.


We are following the crabs now (maybe crawling) deeper into Atlantis, into a secret chamber with what looks like many individual teleportation devices... Find the one that fits you on your yoga mat and lie down comfortably in it.


5-10 Minutes


The Solution Is All Seaweed!

The most AWESOME solution both for saving the oceans and mitigating climate change is also the simplest - SEAWEED!

As the Amazon burns, there’s growing interest in cultivating forests that absorb planet-warming carbon emissions, but that are fireproof. That’s because these forests are underwater!

Algae is up to 400 times more efficient than a tree at removing CO2 from the atmosphere. That means that while we are learning to reduce carbon emissions and augment our consumption patterns, we can start to make big reductions in atmospheric carbon. 

Trees and algae sequester carbon dioxide naturally. Trees “consume” it as part of their photosynthesis process by “absorbing” carbon into their trunks and roots and releasing oxygen back into the air. 

Seaweed can be also harvested and used for biofuels, and seaweed biomass can be used to make fertilizer to make crops on land more productive. 

Seaweeds can even be used to make plastics that are biodegradable, and that are a lot less harmful than the plastics that we currently use that stick around on the planet for hundreds of thousands of years.

Seaweeds produce compounds that have been investigated for use in antibiotics, cancer drugs and anti-inflammatories. Seaweed is a nutritious, sustainable vegan food. Growing it can even clean up polluted waters. 

And unlike conventional agriculture, seaweed farming doesn’t require fresh water, fertilizer or external inputs, so there’s no need to clear land to cultivate it.

So let’s all grow and eat more seaweed!





Seaweed - Start standing and then, bending down, let your body hang loosely like a jellyfish. Even your hands should be totally loose and floppy like long long seaweed.

 

Here’s another type of seaweed swaying in the waves - Lie down on your back with your hands beside your body or reclining on your elbows and forearms. Lift both legs together half a circle up to one side, and then half a circle down and up to the other side. This pose is super core-strengthening!


Underwater Seaweed Limbo Game - Mermaids LOVE playing in the seaweed beds! Decorate a broom handle with blue and green coloured curling ribbon. Tie long lengths to the broom handle so when you hold it up like a limbo stick, the ribbon dangles down like waves. Instead of the limbo song, play something that fits the mermaid theme (such as Under the Sea) as students do the limbo.


Seaweed Tangle - This game is all about making a big, fun mess of “seaweed” all over the yoga space. Give each mermaid/man a roll of green crepe paper streamers. Set up a few checkpoints through which they must run on their way to the finish line. Have different players start at different checkpoints. While they are running, they must hold up the streamers so that they unravel behind them. Set up the checkpoints in a zig-zag pattern so they will have a fun tangle of seaweed with each other to “swim” through while playing. 


Seaweed Monster Game - The teacher is the seaweed monster, and stands at one end of the classroom. The kids are at the other end of the classroom in Seaweed Pose. 


The kids yell together, “Seaweed Monster, Seaweed Monster, are you hungry?” to which the seaweed monster will say “No, not really, come closer”. 


The kids will all come a little closer and ask the question again. This happens over and over, until the seaweed monster finally answers “Yes”! 


At this point he tries to tag as many children as possible and they become seaweed monsters too. 


10-15 Minutes

Plastic Should Be A Thing Of The Past

Right now 91% of plastics we use can’t be recycled and every minute a truckload-worth is dumped in the ocean, suffocating sea life and spreading pollutants across shores.

But scientists say that a certain kind of mushroom could eat up to half of the plastic waste being dumped in the ocean - How amazing is this!

Scientists have discovered mushrooms that can devour plastic waste in a matter of weeks… Plastic that would otherwise just be in the ocean forever.

Fungi, like mushrooms and yeast, are nature’s cleanup crew. The enzymes they produce can break down pollutants and clean up everything from oil spills to toxic pesticides.

Nearly all the plastic ever created still exists in some form today. So scientists are using these crafty microbes to try and break down all types of plastics to make them possible to recycle and reuse - and it’s working!

We could finally get rid of plastic waste!

Plastic production is still increasing rapidly. By 2050, studies say there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish - but we can change that.

First, do your best to not use plastic. I try to buy most food at the farmers market and the bulk shop so that I don’t have to pollute the earth with all of the access packaging.

We also switched our laundry detergent (we use powder that comes in a cardboard box), tooth paste (we use tablets now), soap shampoo and conditioner (we use bars for all of those now) to non plastic packaged products now.

Be conscious in your choices of what you buy and what you use. You vote with your choices and money for a better planet!

You can also support projects such as the Ocean Blue Projectthat are working hard on industrial-scale use of plastic-eaters fungi. With your help we give the planet a fighting chance to breathe again!

Mermaid Plastic Treasure Hunt - This is a fun scavenger hunt for your little merpeople. Take several plastic “treasures” such fake jewels and jewelry, plastic cutlery and cups, plastic toys etc.and hide them around the yoga space under yoga mats and anywhere available. 


It is the mermaids’ job now to find the plastic and clean the oceans! 


Mushroom- For this parachute game, the goal is to make the parachute look like a mushroom. For this, have the children lift the parachute up and down for a few practise rounds. Once they get the hang of it, on the count of 3 they lift it up as high as they can, crouch on their knees, and pull the edges down outside of them. This way all the children are inside the parachute and looks a lot like a mushroom. 


It’s a good place to tuck in for relaxation...


5-10 Minutes


Mermaid Wish Relaxation

Waves Breath - Here you block your ears with your thumbs, breath deeply and listen to the waves in your breath.


Wow! We have worked hard today to help the ocean, our earth and all of its inhabitants on the surface and under the sea…


Let’s lie down on our backs and have a little mermaid beauty sleep. You can even use a blanket if you have one to make it extra cozy and easier to relax (the weight of the blanket helps to calm down the nervous system) or we can all use the parachute together as a big giant sea blanket.


Imagine that you are lying down in your royal mermaid bed, in your safe mermaid room… 


Take some deep breaths and feel how the gentle waves in the warm ocean are helping you to relax; When you breathe in they gently lift you up, and as you breathe out the waves gently lay you down again.


Now you can see through the water the stars sparkling in the night sky and the plankton in the water imitating that with their shiny little lights.


Now, as your mind becomes clearer and clearer, you can see and feel that each one of those shining stars and twinkles in the water is a wish… Lots of wishes are floating about, shimmering and sparkling all around you!


One of those wishes is your special wish for today… It’s a wish for the world; not a wish just for yourself, but a wish that can benefit everyone.


What do you wish today for the oceans, for all sea creatures, for the world? 


If available, blow soap bubbles on them...


Take a deep breath and let this amazing sparkly and shining gift expand and see how what you wish for is coming true now with your effort and the effort of all other people on earth, each doing their best to make this world a better place.


(Allow the children to stay in silence for another moment here).


Wiggle your fingers and toes, and remember that your wish will come true.


Each one of us is a little light, but together we are a beacon that shines far and wide. Each one of us can make a small difference with every action and every choice… And together all of those good actions and choices make a giant impact for the better. 


Slowly open your eyes… Welcome back here my little merpeople!


5 Minutes

 

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