Tidal Flat Exploration

Coastal Ecology—Tidal Flat Exploration

Summary: This field lesson provides a structured experience for students to investigate the life of the tidal flats of the estuary and explore the relationship between sediments, elevation, and the life beneath surface.

Concepts to teach: Marine and coastal ecosystems, habitats, estuaries, benthic organisms

Goals: Students will collect and use evidence to explain the relationship between abiotic factors and the distribution of organisms in an estuary.

6.2L.2, 6.3S.1, 7.2E.4, 7.3S.1, 8.3S.1

Specific Objectives: Students will understand that:

  1. The tide flats are covered twice a day by salty estuary water.
  2. The tide flats are made of sediment which may be sand, mud, or gravel.
  3. The type of sediment and the elevation determine what lives where.
  4. Most animals burrow below the mud to stay wet, protected, and to feed on the tidewater.
  5. Different animals have different types of adaptations for life in the mud.

Activity Links and Resources:


  • Examine student field journals and data for completeness. Students may present their findings in a PowerPoint presentation or report.