Pre-Visit Information: Build a Habitat
The Build a Habitat program at Hatfield Marine Science Center is designed to be a 50-minute hands-on program for K-3 grade students. Students will work in small groups as they examine several live marine organisms, learn about what they need to survive, and discover how they function together in a healthy marine habitat.
A habitat is the area or environment where an organism or group of organisms normally live. Suitable habitat is critical to the survival of all animals and includes adequate food, clean water, and air, as well as cover, or shelter, from the elements and potential predators. The amount and quality of these needs vary a great deal from species to species.
We have many marine habitats along the Oregon coast. Tidepools, eelgrass beds, sandy beaches, and mudflats are all examples of marine habitats. Like animals that live on land, marine organisms also need oxygen (which they usually get from the water), shelter, and food. They require clean salt water instead of fresh water for their survival.
An ecosystem is the interaction of organisms with their habitat and each other. Like their terrestrial counterparts, marine ecosystems contain numerous producers who are at the base of the food chain and utilize energy from the sun to create their own food and produce oxygen. Marine producers include algae or seaweed, sea grasses, and phytoplankton. Producers are then consumed by grazers, who in turn, are eaten by predators. Scavengers are those organisms that feed on dead and decaying plant or animal material, thereby helping to keep habitats “clean.”