skip to main content

Leading adult education through support for and the effective application of technology.

National Geographic Education: Deep Sea Ecosystems: Extreme Living

Example Web Site and/or Technical Equipment Required


Website Example:

Tech Product Equipment

Computer(s), Internet access, projector, speakers, Flash plug-in

Activity Description

In this activity, students discuss how they and other organisms adapt to survive in different environments. They discover the characteristics of deep sea extremophiles that help those organisms survive in several deep sea ecosystems.

In this lesson students will be able to:

  • compare and contrast the basic things that organisms need to survive in a variety of ecosystems, including sunlight/energy, freshwater, food, and shelter
  • recognize and describe a variety of deep ocean organisms and the ecosystems in which they live
  • describe how different deep ocean organisms have adapted to survive the extreme conditions of deep sea ecosystems


  1. Read through the Lesson Plan, which is divided into Directions, Objectives, Preparation, and Background & Vocabulary.
  2. You will use the Directions section of the lesson plan to guide a discussion. There are a number of questions to activate prior knowledge of animals' habitat needs and adaptations. You will also use the multi-media portion of the page, so familiarize yourself with how to advance through and play the various elements.
  3. If you decide to use the Deep Sea Ecosystem Cards (pdf) and the Deep Sea Challenge and Adaptation Cards (pdf), you will need to print them on cardstock and cut them out.


  1. Activate students’ prior knowledge by asking "What do living organisms like you, need to survive?" and the other questions found in the Directions section of the plan. Enforce the meaning of adapting to the environment.
  2. Explain what ecosystems and habitats are.
  3. Have students watch the National Geographic video “Into the Abyss” – follow with questions suggested under Directions.
  4. Ask students to match ecosystem, challenge, and adaptation descriptions to photos. (You will find the labeled and unlabeled illustrations in the multimedia section of the page.)
  5. Have students make connections between ecosystems and adaptations.

Teacher Tips

  • Informal Assessment: Check students’ comprehension based on their responses to the following questions:
    • Why is it hard for organisms to survive in the deep sea?
    • What are some of the adaptations organisms have had to develop in order to survive?

More Ways

Extending the Learning:

  • Have students draw and label their own imaginary organism that lives in one of the deep sea ecosystems they learned about, and their creature's adaptations.
  • Post students' work in the classroom for the whole class to see and explore.

Select subjects and subcategories


  • Biology
  • Earth Science
  • General Science
  • Health and Life Science
  • Science Electives
Scroll To Top

OTAN activities are funded by contract CN200091-A2 from the Adult Education Office, in the Career & College Transition Division, California Department of Education, with funds provided through Federal P.L., 105-220, Section 223. However, OTAN content does not necessarily reflect the position of that department or the U.S. Department of Education.