Ocean creatures, habitats and stories

This learning sequence explores how the television series The Deep incorporates some creatures based on real-life underwater animals, others that are works of fiction, and some that are a mix of both.

Creators and story writers for television series find inspiration in the most interesting places. For The Deep, some of the sea creatures are based on extinct animals, others are based on creatures you can find in our oceans today, others have mystical powers and some are based on legends and stories. Each of these creatures are unique and are made of different elements or characteristics which we can explore, research and analyse.

TASK 1: Fact and fiction

Watch the following three scenes as a class:

As a class, discuss the following:

  • What is the difference between fact and fiction?
  • Which creatures did you recognise in the video? What about them is recognisable? Was it the way they looked, moved, or something else? Think about the size, shape and colours. 
  • Which of the creatures in the video do you think were based on science and facts? What makes you say that?
  • What creatures did you not recognise in the video? 
  • Do you have any questions you would like to ask the creators of these creatures? Write a list of these questions.
TASK 2: The Plesiosaur

Watch the following scene from The Deep Series 1 Episode 1: ‘Here Be Dragons’ to meet a creature called a Plesiosaur.

Watch the Australian National Maritime Museum’s guided tour titled Sea Monsters - Prehistoric Ocean Predators Exhibition. In this video you will learn more about some of the real creatures that lived in our oceans during the time of the dinosaurs.

Reflecting on the fossils in the museum exhibition, have the class discuss fact and fiction in The Deep's depiction of the Plesiosaur.

Extension task:

Did you know that - just like the show’s creators - people working in museums sometimes have to use their imaginations to hypothesise what extinct animals may have looked like. Read about the artists and designers who worked on the Sea Monsters exhibition and discuss how these people use creativity and their imagination in their jobs.

Paleoart: Impressions of prehistoric predators - Australian National Maritime Museum (sea.museum) 

Underwater graphics: Designing Sea Monsters - Australian National Maritime Museum

Sea Monsters: Creating 3D models of prehistoric ocean predators - Australian National Maritime Museum

TASK 3: Is this real life or just fantasy?

The stories in The Deep are sometimes based in reality and sometimes have elements of fiction. Divide your class into five groups and choose one of the following clips for each group. 

Group 1: A Siren, a whale or something else?
Group 2: An extinct giant
Group 3: Microscopic creatures
Group 4: Sea unicorns
Group 5: Little or big problems

 In your groups, watch the clip and discuss the following: 

  • Do you think your creature was based on real sea creatures or one that was made up and imagined for the television series? Or maybe it has elements of both?
  • Do you think the creators of the television series found inspiration from any other places for your creature? For example, real life, scientific research, myths, legends or other stories.

In your groups, research the creature in your clip to determine which characteristics were based on real-life sea creatures, which were inspired by other stories, and what was fiction. Create a short presentation to share your findings and deliver this to the class for feedback.

Group 1: A Siren, a whale or something else?

This clip explores the creatures in Series 1 Episode 20: 'The Song of the Siren'.

In this episode, Devil Daniels, who is a monster hunter, thinks he's hunting a siren - a mythical creature whose song lures sailors to their doom. However, the Nektons discover that it’s not a siren at all but a rare whale, known as 52 Blue, that has a unique voice. Watch the following clip from the end of the episode to learn more about this creature.


Group 2: An extinct giant

These clips explore the creatures in Series 1 Episode 22: ‘Strange Migration’. 

In this episode, the Rover - with Will and Fontaine inside - is swallowed by a huge, extinct prehistoric shark called a megalodon. Watch the following scenes to see what happened when the Nektons first meet the megalodon and what they learn about this creature at the end of the episode.


Group 3: Microscopic creatures

These clips explore the creatures in Series 2 Episode 4: ‘Treacherous Waters’.

In this episode, the Nektons enter an area of the Bermuda Triangle where the laws of physics do not seem to apply - including size. They meet some tardigrades, that are usually so tiny they are only visible through a microscope but in The Deep they are huge. Watch the following moments from the episode as the Nektons’ learn about tardigrades.


Group 4: Sea unicorns

This clip explores the creatures in Series 3 Episode 7: ‘The Sea Unicorn’.

In this episode, Ant tries to locate a "diamond-horned sea-unicorn" as a present for Fontaine's birthday after learning that she saw one when she was ten years old. But Dolos and Devil Daniel are looking for the mythical sea unicorn too. Watch the following scenes to learn more about this creature.


Group 5: Little or big problems

These clips explore the creatures in Series 4 Episode 3: ‘Little Problems’.

In this episode, three baby Monumential turtles (in The Deep, Monumentials are giant sea creatures, thousands of years old) hatch and they are the size of city blocks. Watch the following scene to see how the Nektons help to hatch these not so little babies and reunite them with their mother.

TASK 4: Research sea creatures

As a class, develop definitions and examples for the following terms:

  • Physical characteristics
  • Behavioural characteristics
  • Survival characteristics
  • Scientific drawings
  • Annotations

Using the downloadable activity sheet below, research different sea creatures and outline the physical, behavioural and survival characteristics you would like to include in your own fictional sea creature.

These resources may support you to conduct your research:

  • Explore some of the creatures from the Australian National Maritime Museum’s Ocean Wonders exhibition. This photographic exhibition was created in partnership with Schmidt Ocean Institute. Open this PDF document on your digital device or print it out and place the pages around your room to recreate the exhibition in your classroom. 
  • Go on a class excursion to the Australian National Maritime Museum or another museum or aquarium close to your school. You may also like to look into incursions, boat trips or research websites close to your school.
  • Visit your school library or local library.
TASK 5: Designing creatures from The Deep

Now that you have researched different sea creatures and outlined their physical, behavioural and survival characteristics, design your own fictional sea creature to feature in The Deep television series.

Using the downloadable drawing activity below, incorporate characteristics that are based on real creatures and include some you have made up yourself.

You may like to watch some students explain the characteristics of the creatures they design for The Deep.

TASK 6: Design a habitat for your creature

Record your thinking as a plan for a habitat diorama.

  • What does the habitat look like and feel like?
  • Which other animals might live in this habitat?
  • Think about the life cycle of your sea creature. What do they eat? Does anything eat them? How do they hide? How do they thrive and survive?
  • What conditions does your sea creature prefer?
  • How does your creature move around in the habitat?
  • How might the habitat change and how will your creature adapt to those changes?

Create a diorama of the habitat and a puppet of your creature to demonstrate how it would move, hide, play or hunt within the habitat. Use as many sustainable materials as possible in your diorama creation. This could include using old shoe boxes, recycling bottles and lids, reusing paper etc.

Extension task:

Create a stop motion film of your creature exploring its habitat.

TASK 7: Creative writing

Write a short creative story where your creature has an encounter with the Nekton Family in an episode of The Deep. Here are some story prompts to get you started.

  • The Nektons see a small unidentified object on their radar. It starts to get bigger and bigger, coming straight towards their submarine, the Aronnax. What happens next? Are the Nektons scared, surprised or excited to see your sea creature?
  • The Nektons are sleeping on the Aronnax when they suddenly hear a loud bang that shakes the whole submarine and knocks them out of their beds. They run to the bridge and see your sea creature looking at them through the window. What do they see? Start by describing your sea creature.
  • Jeffery, Ant Nektons’ special fish, dramatically alerts the family to a whale in the distance. The family is confused, as the whale is nothing new. The whale swims to the side and reveals your sea creature. How do the Nekton’s react? What does your creature do when it notices the submarine?

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