Oregon Coast Aquarium brings ‘Flippers, Fur and Fun’ to South Ridge Elementary School

Staff members brought a fun program to entertain and educate students on marine mammals

RIDGEFIELD — The Oregon Coast Aquarium is hours away from South Ridge Elementary School — but the coast felt a lot closer when Aquarium staff came to visit.  They brought a fun program, “Flippers, Fur, and Fun”, to entertain and educate students on marine mammals.

Two South Ridge Elementary School students volunteered to wear costumes as part of Oregon Coast Aquarium's "Flippers, Fur and Fun" show. Photo courtesy Ridgefield Public Schools
Two South Ridge Elementary School students volunteered to wear costumes as part of Oregon Coast Aquarium’s “Flippers, Fur and Fun” show. Photo courtesy Ridgefield Public Schools

Excited students could hardly sit still as videos of animals at the Aquarium played on the big screen.  They started learning with photos of animals that live at the Oregon Coast Aquarium: Pacific harbor seal, Boots and Pinky, and a California sea lion named Max. 

Both types of animals are marine mammals, which means they live a lot of their lives in the water, but they are warm blooded, breathe air, and have hair or fur.  Other types of marine mammals include polar bears, sea otters, and whales. 

The Oregon Coast Aquarium displayed tables of biofacts during their visit to South Ridge Elementary School. Students could see what a harbor seal pelt felt like and see a large sea lion skull. Photo courtesy Ridgefield Public Schools
The Oregon Coast Aquarium displayed tables of biofacts during their visit to South Ridge Elementary School. Students could see what a harbor seal pelt felt like and see a large sea lion skull. Photo courtesy Ridgefield Public Schools

But how do you tell harbor seals and California sea lions apart?  They needed two volunteers to help. Two students, Jonah and Reese, offered to help demonstrate the differences.  They were escorted behind a screen to get ready for their part in the show.

The other students spent some time doing the Seal Shimmy (a dance similar to the Hokey Pokey, but with flippers, whiskers, and blubber going in and out).   And they tried to figure out ways that marine mammals are able to live in the ocean. (Fur protects them from the sun, flippers help them swim, blubber keeps them warm, and whiskers help them navigate in the water.)  The kids even practiced using their arms as flippers, swaying back and forth as if they were swimming. Then it was time for Jonah and Reese to come back onstage. 

Kids laughed with delight when they saw Jonah and Reese in costume—one as a Pacific harbor seal and one as a California sea lion.  Each student took a turn coming forward to show the characteristics that distinguish each animal. Then they learned how those animals are cared for at the Oregon Coast Aquarium. 

South Ridge Elementary school students learn to do the "Seal Shimmy"--a dance like the Hokey Pokey, but for marine mammals instead of people--during a program presentation visit by the Oregon Coast Aquarium. Photo courtesy Ridgefield Public Schools
South Ridge Elementary school students learn to do the “Seal Shimmy”–a dance like the Hokey Pokey, but for marine mammals instead of people–during a program presentation visit by the Oregon Coast Aquarium. Photo courtesy Ridgefield Public Schools

The learning included some hands-on time, where students could see how they measured up to life-sized inflatable seals and sea lions.  And they got the chance to examine animal biofacts: seal and sea lion pelts, skulls, and bones. 

With so many opportunities to learn and explore, the Aquarium brought the shore right to South Ridge’s door.  And when the show was over, they packed everything back into their sea blue van, ready to drive to the next group of students.

The Oregon Coast Aquarium is located in Newport, Oregon.  For more information or to plan a visit, check their website at aquarium.org 

Information provided by Ridgefield Public Schools.

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