Reader's Digest World Presents The Living Edens Palau-Paradise of the Pacific
Aquatic Classroom


Palau, Paradise of the Pacific: Catch A Moorish Idol

Objectives of the Lesson
Background Information
Materials Needed For The Activity
Evaluation/Alternative Assessment
National Science Standards
Other Sites on Palau
Other Sites on Coral Reefs

Objectives of the Lesson:

At the completion of the lesson, the students will:

  1. Observe the behavior of Moorish Idols in The Living Edens: Palau program
  2. Role play the behavior of Moorish Idols in a classroom game
  3. Evaluate how the behavior and appearance of Moorish Idols contributes to their success as a species

Background Information:

In The Living Edens: Palau, Moorish Idols are seen swimming in large schools, all in the same direction at the same time. Additionally, they all look the same. These characteristics help the Moorish Idol evade predators. Predators are confused by the large numbers, movement and color of the Moorish Idols. Predators have a difficult time picking one Moorish Idol out of the entire school.


Materials Needed For The Activity:

  1. One old white sheet for all but two of the classroom participants.
  2. A string to act as a belt for each student
  3. Scissors for each student
  4. Science Journals and pencils/pens
  5. Three six inch circles of red construction paper
  6. A school playing field with boundaries
  7. Black and yellow school paint, markers, or crayons (optional)
  8. Gray construction paper
  9. Stop watch for the teacher


  1. Ask each student pretending to be a Moorish Idol to cut out a nose, mouth and two eye holes in an old white sheet and place the sheet over his head. Each student should appear alike, just as the Moorish Idols all appear alike. Black and yellow stripes on the white sheets to mimic the Moorish Idol appearance adds to the game.
  2. Ask two students to pretend they are sharks hunting for the Moorish Idols. The number of sharks can be increased if the Moorish Idols always win the game.
  3. Ask three of the students pretending to be Moorish Idols to carry the red circles to indicate they are the selected prey. The sharks then chase and tag them on the playground within three minutes.
  4. Ask all of the Moorish Idols (white sheet students) to gather in a group and run from the sharks just as seen in the Palau program. The Moorish Idols make break up into smaller groups as they wish. The teacher can call out turn left, turn right to keep the groups synchronized as seen in the Palau program, or the students may select a 'lead fish' to follow. The teacher must also be the time keeper.
  5. The sharks will try to tag the Moorish Idols carrying the red circle.
  6. Allow the sharks to have three minutes to tag the Moorish Idols carrying the red circle. If they are successful, the sharks win. If unsuccessful, the Moorish Idols win.
  7. Change the roles students play in this game.


Evaluation/Alternative Assessment:

Have students play the game in the playground. Following the game, have a class discussion regarding the process that took place. Have the sharks give their opinion, then ask for comments from the regular Moorish Idols and those Moorish Idols with the red circles. Ask students why the oldest, youngest, or infirm members of a population are often most susceptible to predation.

Compare and contrast the game to what students viewed in The Living Edens: Palau. Bring attention to the fact that Moorish Idols are able to evade capture due to number, teamwork and the fact that they all appear the same to the predator.

The lesson addresses the following National Science Standards:

-develop understanding of regulation and behavior

-develop understanding of diversity and adaptation of organisms

-develop understanding of structure and function in living systems

-think critically and logically to make the relationships between evidence and explanation

Other Sites on Palau:
Maps of Palau, supplied by the University of Texas
Republic of Palau, CIA Factbook
Look here for information on Palau's natural resources, government, topography, climate, demographics, and economy.
Palau Visitors Authority
The official Palau tourism site supplies information about diving, culture, history, and travel arrangements.
Beast of Eden
This Discovery Channel site focuses on the occupation of the Palauan island Peleliu during World War II. Interviews with soldiers, video clips, a slide show, and military history are featured.

Other Sites on Coral Reefs:
Reefs in Trouble
Mother Jones magazine sponsors this site on the world's endangered reefs. Learn why reefs are so important and what types of human activity jeopardize them.
Fisheye View
You'll find an excellent archive of video and still images of corals and fish at this site.

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