Increases in the ozone hole will result in damaging ultraviolet-B (UV-B) rays penetrating deep into the ocean. Increases in UV rays will harm young marine life, such as floating fish eggs, fish larvae, juvenile fish, and shrimp larvae.

UV-B radiation also affects phytoplankton movement: orientation (moving up and down in the water in response to the amount of light) and motility (moving through the water). Inability to properly position themselves in the water column dramatically inhibits their ability to photosynthesize. If phytoplankton are harmed by increases in the ozone layer, how will others in the Antarctic food web be affected?

Find out what will survive UV-B radiation in Antarctica

  1. Use the diagram as the basis for a food web game. Brainstorm and make a list of the plants and animals that live in Antarctica. Discuss how phytoplankton are primary producers since they use sunlight to make carbohydrates.
  2. Make cards for each item in the food web. Assign each child to an element of the food web.
  3. Give one end of the string to the student who is phytoplankton. Have the class discuss and decide what element eats what. Pass the piece of string along, up the food chain to the larger predators.
  4. Increase the amount of UV-B radiation in the food chain and "kill off" the phytoplankton.
  5. Have students let go of the food web string as they no longer have any food to eat.
  6. Discuss the implications of this in the waters surrounding Antarctica.

Pollution in the Food Web

Since phytoplankton are at the bottom of the food chain anything that harms them has larger implications for the other animals that depend on them for food, including humans. If polluted runoff is incorporated into the phytoplankton, everything that eats the phytoplankton will concentrate the pollution in its tissues.

Play the food web game again, but pass out pollution cards to phytoplankton. Have the students pass the cards along the food web until they reach top of the food chain, humans.

Materials