Northwest Fisheries Science Center

Toxic Algae and Marine Food Webs

Recommended for:

Middle School


This curriculum unit is designed for a one to two week study of harmful algal blooms, their cause, their effect on the marine food chain, and identification of organisms in an algal bloom. The unit is designed to address Life Science Standards at the middle school level and is broken down into sections to allow teachers quick access to different lessons and extensions.

What’s Inside:

Introduction and Pre-Lesson Teacher Preparation
Lesson 1. View the video Zombie Sea Lions by National Geographic
Lesson 2. Debriefing the Video
Lesson 3. Collecting and Viewing Plankton.
Lesson 4. Food Webs
Lesson 5. Conclusion
Suggested Lesson Extensions
Credits and acknowledgements

Download the full Toxic Algae and Marine Food Webs Curricula (PDF)

Phytoplankton Identification sheet (PDF)

Marine Food Web Cards (PDF)

Primer 1. Plankton- “Drifters of the Sea” (PDF)

Primer 2. Harmful Algal Blooms (HAB’s) (PDF)

Primer 3. Algal Toxins and Human Health (PDF)

Questions Worksheet to Accompany the Primers (PDF)

Video: National Geographic Wild Predator CSI: Zombie Sealions (Coming soon)

Video: Collecting Plankton

Additional Resources

Phytoplankton Identification Cards (PDF 683 KB | 3.5 MB )

Play with these cards to learn more about harmful algae that live in Pacific Northwest waters. Print off 4 double-sided copies of this PDF to create a full deck of 52 playing cards.

Map of domoic acid detected in wildlife off the West Coast during a record-setting bloom of toxic alge in the North Pacific (JPG)