Product Idea

Ocean Ecosystems

     There is no doubt that there are many different conditions and habitats in the oceans. From the Mariana Trench, where the pressure is the equivalent of 1,600 elephants standing on a fishes' head, to the bright, sunlit, almost- no- pressure- surface. In this set I have chosen 5 (to be clear, this is not suggesting 5 different sets. It is 1 set made of 5 models). The 5 are: Kelp forests, whalefalls, coral reefs, hydrothermal vents, and mangrove forests.

     Hydrothermal Vents:
Hydrothermal vents, informally "black smokers", are places on the ocean floor where superheated water and minerals break through, spewing columns in the water. The minerals form huge spires, as though they are chimneys. The mineral rich water also provides food for a number of animals, IE yeti crabs, tube worms, Pompeii worms, and various shrimp. 
     The model I have made to represent a vent in this set is very detailed. It contains 1 vent, with tube worms (the red and white pieces) and yeti crabs on its surface. Transparent brown pieces represent the water spewing out. 

     Mangrove Forests
Mangrove trees (or rather, their underwater roots,) are surprisingly full of life. What makes them so unique is not only what lives around them, but also that the mangroves are the only trees known to be able to survive with their roots submerged in salt water. Or to put it another way, not only are their roots a habitat for many animals, they are the only trees whose roots can host certain saltwater animals.
     This part of the set is perhaps the most complex. There are tangles of tooth pieces for the roots, hidden clear pieces holding up fish, and the unique design of using the higher parts to hold up clear blue plates, thus imitating the water's surface. I also included many of the animals that live there; crabs, fish, starfish, and some coral.

I will admit, this one is my favorite. Not because of how it looks, the design is rather simplistic, the details minimal. No, this is my favorite because of an animal represented here. If you look, there are small orange feather pieces on the whale bones. These represent a worm by the Latin name of Osedax mucofloris. Anyone who knows Latin is likely giggling at this point, as that scientific name roughly means 'bone eating snot flower'. You see, whalefalls are the remains of dead whales that fall to the ocean floor. So when marine biologists found whale remains stripped to the bone, they were supposed to find the bones being eaten as well. Enter the Osedax. Of course, there are others shown here (I just had to have my ocean geek moment first). There are hagfish (represented by the sand red tooth pieces) and crabs, although both don't eat farther than the dead whale flesh.
So this part of the set is interesting in subject, if simplistic in detail.

Kelp Forest
Aah, one of the best known ones. Most people know that giant kelp is a towering column of seaweed like plant life, growing at an amazing rate close the that of bamboo, and housing many animals. Well, I say 'housing'. If you are observant, you have likely seen the spiky black balls in this set. Those would be sea urchins, and they are capable of devouring giant kelp. So maybe they are mutual enemies, but then there are the fish and starfish shown here that I've peacefully with the kelp.

Coral Reef
Aah, the best known one. Even the youngest child knows about these. I'm this section of the set, I made a basic incline base, covered by every piece that could possibly represent coral. Coffee mugs, mace heads, hairbrushes, everything. Then there are your normal fish, a squid, a shark, and a starfish.

I built this set for the same reason as normal: some random idea pops into my head, I build it. Anyway, I believe that this would make a great set because it represents a 5 models, one set approach of examples of the different ocean conditions out there.