Functions of the Estuary Activity: Music of the Estuary Activity: Magical Images of the Estuary Activity: Estuary Interviews Activity: Estuary Issues Activity: What does it take to be an Estuary Inhabitant?
Chapter 3 Introduction Essential Questions What is an Estuary?
Lessons on the Lake -> Chapter List -> Chapter 3 -> What Does it Take to be an Estuary Inhabitant


What Does It Take To Be an Estuary Inhabitant?


  1. Research the physical, behavioral and physiological adaptations of estuarine organisms.

  2. Visit a nature center, museum, or the New Orleans Aquarium of the Americas to observe estuarine organisms.

  3. Set up a simple aquarium in the classroom to facilitate observation of small estuarine organisms.

Teaching Materials:

  • Library access

  • Internet access

  • Books about estuaries and estuarine habitats and organisms

  • Ten gallon or larger aquarium

  • Aquarium aeration and filtration equipment

  • Copies of the handout “Choose an Inhabitant” (Page 80)

  • Copies of the handout “What Makes Me So Special?” (Page 81)

Getting Ready:

  1. Collect estuarine organisms to inhabit a classroom aquarium. This collection could be part of a class field trip, or the teacher may want to do this alone. The organisms should be small. They may include grass shrimp, small crabs, small minnows, etc. (Crabs are ferocious predators, so keep them separate from organisms you want to protect.)

  2. Collect aquatic plants growing in the area.

  3. Bring enough water from the collection site to fill your aquarium. (Remember that the water will have a salt concentration particular to the collection site.)

  4. Set up the aquarium in the classroom. Include plants and animals.

  5. Arrange a field trip to the Audubon Louisiana Nature Center, Aquarium of the Americas, or a local museum with an aquarium. Discuss the activity with staff at the facility prior to the trip. Also contact the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation; they may offer a program that fits your needs.

  6. Collect books and magazine articles about estuarine organisms.

  7. Research relevant web sites and contact the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation for their publication, A Guide to the Wetlands of the Lake Pontchartrain Basin.


  1. Work as a team or individually to conduct your research.

  2. Choose a plant and animal organism listed in the handout “Choose an Inhabitant.” Use books and the Internet to conduct research about the physical, physiological, and behavioral adaptations of your chosen organisms.

  3. Answer the questions listed in the handout about your chosen organisms.

  4. Complete the handout “What Makes Me So Special?”

  5. Create a profile of your chosen organisms. Show the organisms’ adaptations to their habitat. Illustrate the profile with drawings or photographs of your organisms.


Most alligators are shy and would rather avoid people. However, if they feel threatened or provoked they can be extremely dangerous.
  1. Introduction
  2. Essential Questions
  3. What is an Estuary?
  4. Functions of the Estuary
  5. Activity: Music of the Estuary
  6. Activity: Magical Images of the Estuary
  7. Activity: Estuary Interviews
  8. Activity: Estuary Issues
  9. Activity: What does it take to be an Estuary Inhabitant?