Intro Lesson About

Lesson 1

Lesson 2

Lesson 3

Lesson 4

Lesson 5

Lesson 6

Lesson 7

Lesson 8


Lesson 3: The Sea

Lesson at a glance

We all know that for Pacific Islands, the sea is as much a part of life as the land.

You will use published sources and local knowledge to gain a comprehensive picture of places, uses, and activities associated with the Sea in your land division. You will compare these with similar categories of information in the different communities of Pacific Worlds.

Key Concepts Local uses of the sea; coral reef formation; beaches and dunes; varieties of fish and traditions regarding them; fishing techniques and values.

Lesson Outcomes You will:

  • understand the sea as an extension of the land.
  • understand the types of coral reef (if any) found offshore their area;
  • identify local fish or sea foods derived (now or then) at their coast;
  • identify places in or near the sea.
  • Understand all of the above in cross-cultural perspective.


For these exercises, you will want:

  • A map of your shoreline, such as a USGS topographic map, that shows shoreline and reef features, as well as the depths of the sea off your coast.
  • Books or materials on fish and marine life, fishing, canoes and navigation, and cultural practices concerning all of these, for your region.

Palau Paradise of the Pacific – Aquatic Classroom
Part of the Public Broadcasting System website, this “Aquatic Classroom” has four exercises for teachers and students, and explains how each addresses particular National Science Standards in the United States.

The Coral Reef Teacher’s Guide from Reef Relief includes lesson plans for grades K-5, 6-8, and 9-12. It is available through their website for US$40: Forest/tguide.html

There are a range of books and materials on aquatic life in different portions of the Pacific.

• Shore Fishes of Hawaii by John E. Randall
• Micronesian Reef Fishes : A Field Guide for Divers and Aquarists by Robert F. Myers
• Hawaiian Reefs by Ron Russo
• Hawaiian reefs and Tidepools by Ann Fielding
• Tropical Pacific Invertebrates: A Field Guide to Marine Invertebrates Occurring on Tropical Pacific Ocean Coral Reefs, Seagrass Beds, & Mangroves by Patrick L. Colin, Charles Arneson




lore from local people, including surfers, fishermen, swimmers, and others who use the sea and know of its landscape, conditions, places, and habits.



Exercise 1: Seaside
Website: The Sea >Seaside

Using a map, such as specified in “Tools” above, sketch in the coastal and shoreline features for your land division.

Identify any coastal locations, such as beach parks, points, rocks, islands, coves, bays, and so forth. Are there any fishponds or other human-made sites?

How close did the peoples of your island’s culture live to the shore? What sorts of activities went on next to the sea? For example, were there canoe houses? If so, what went on there?

Compare your findings with the other cultures found on Pacific Worlds. How do they differ? Why? Where do you see similarities, and where do you see differences?

Exercise 2: Beaches and Shoreline
Website: The Sea >Beaches

Add to your map any beach or coastal names that you know of, that were not included on the map you used, including portions of the shore that may have separate names, as well as contemporary surfing or fishing sites, and new names.

Consider the “characteristics” of each beach or portion of the shoreline: how safe is it to swim, and does that vary from one season to another? Does beach sand disappear altogether at different times of year?

Identify on your map any surfing sites, gathering sites, or other usage areas, and their names. Try to find the story or explanation that goes with each name, whether they are old or new names. Discuss use and gathering practices, and compare to other places on the Pacific Worlds website.

Consideration: how much of the shoreline is park or otherwise public access, and how much is lined with residential areas? What impact does this have on your use of the shore area? Discuss usage rights to the shore.


Exercise 3: The Reef
Website: The Sea >On the Reef

Using one of the listed books or any other source on coral reefs, explain the difference between fringing reefs, barrier reefs, and atolls.
Which type of reef is present in your land division, if any? Why?

Identify names of reefs or locations on the reefs, or even types of reefs in your local language, and discuss or try to determine their meanings. Consider these in the larger context of your community’s practices. Compare to other communities.

What types of reef fishes or aquatic animals are common offshore your land division? List their local names. What are the traditions concerning these fish and their characteristics

Compare your findings with the other cultures found on Pacific Worlds. Where do you see similarities, and where do you see differences?

Exercise 4: Fishing
Website: The Sea >Fishing

Pacific Island cultures engage in a number of fishing techniques, and have wide ranges of lore and customs concerning fishing. Some of these are culturally based, but others have to do with the nature of the sea offshore — for example, whether there is a protective reef or lagoon, or just open ocean.

In most places, there are particular fish, often at particular seasons, that are of special importance. Identify these fish. Then, identify the traditions or lore associated with them.

Are these the same fish, or different fish, from those discussed in other Pacific Worlds locations? If they are the same fish, how do other Pacific cultures perceive them?

The Fishing pages on the Pacific Worlds websites discuss particular fishing techniques, methods, and lures. What are the techniques specific to your culture? Are they the same or different from those presented elsewhere?

What names do you have for conditions of the sea?

Exercise 5: Language
Website: The Sea >Language

Pacific Island languages are rich in terms for areas and characteristics in the ocean, fishing practices, and types of fish and marine life. Looking at these terms across different cultures is revealing about the ways these cultures understand the sea.

Go to the Language page of any The Sea chapter and compare terms on the different topics:

Names of areas in the sea, from the shoreline and out to the deep ocean;

Words for waves and tides;

Names for fish, and types of fishing;

Names or terms for fishing grounds.

Are these terms similar to yours? Do you see similarities across Pacific Island languages? What do you make of these, and of the differences? Most importantly, what do these terms and their varieties tell you about these cultures?



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