Halibut Activity #2: Adaptation

Halibut are perfectly adapted to their ocean home.


1. Adaptations
Discuss with students the meaning of the biological term adaptation. (Adaptation: Tendency of an organism to suit its environment. Those organisms best adapted to their environment will have a greater chance of surviving and passing their genes on to the next generation.)

  • Ask students to identify some animals they may have studied that have particular adaptations, such as camouflage, sharp teeth or eyes that can see in the dark.
  • What adaptations do humans have, if any?
  • How do these adaptations help the animals, including humans, survive in their preferred habitats? Explain.

Answers: Answers will vary depending upon students’ experiences and understanding.


2. The Importance of Camouflage: The Toothpick Game

  1. Gather at least 250 brightly colored toothpicks. Make sure you have 50 of each of 5 different colors. Choose a grassy area outside. Mark 5-6 different areas off with string. Areas can be any shape you choose and should be 1 to 1.5 meters in diameter.
  2. Before making copies of the Student Handout: The Toothpick Hunt complete the top row of the chart with the 5 colors of toothpicks that you have gathered. Then copy and distribute the handout to 5-6 teams students.
  3. Each team will list their team members down the left column of the chart.
  4. Give teams time to observe and record details about the ground cover of the hunting field, i.e. is the grass tall or short; are there any bare areas in the field; are there any rocks in the field?
  5. While the teams are occupied writing their observations about the ground cover, scatter the supply of toothpicks at random throughout the individual hunting fields.
  6. Tell teams that they are responsible for hunting one area of the hunting field. Assign an area to each team. Have them stand around the area. When you give the signal, teams have 1 minute to find all the toothpicks they can in their area.
  7. At the end of the hunting period have teams count the toothpicks they found by color captured by each member of the team. What is the total number of toothpicks gathered? Determine the team total for each color.
  8. Back in class discuss the teams' hunt.
  9. Did the different teams collect about the same number of toothpicks? Have students offer suggestions to explain.
  10. How did the totals of each color compare? Ask students to answer: Based on your findings, which toothpick was best "adapted" to its environment? Which was the least adapted? How did that influence the hunt?
  11. How would the hunt have changed if the toothpicks hid out in a bright red rug, a sandy beach or a concrete patio? Explain.
Halibut Adaptations
Student Resource: Halibut Adaptations

3. Halibut adaptations
Share the information on halibut adaptations on the Student Resource: Halibut Adaptations with students. Discuss:

  • Based on their toothpick hunt and the information on the resource why do they think adult halibut have a long lifespan and can grow to be so large?
  • What do they think might happen to the halibut of Glacier Bay if the bottom of the bay were to change in composition or color?
  • How do each of the halibut's adaptations help it survive in its environment?

4. The Survival of the Fittest
Create a poster to explain survival of the fittest using the halibut as the example.

go to ACTIVITY #3
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Last updated: April 14, 2015

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