Questions for “One tiny sea parasite survives 200 times atmospheric pressure”

a photo of Maria Soledad Leonardi bending over the back flipper of a southern elephant seal pup

Maria Soledad Leonardi plucks lice off the back flipper of a southern elephant seal pup. She will bring the lice back to her lab to test their pressure tolerances.

Florencia Soto

To accompany “One tiny sea parasite survives 200 times atmospheric pressure


Before Reading:

1. What are lice? Where are they found?

2. What’s a parasite. Give an example of as many as you can name.

During Reading:

1.  Why does Maria Soledad Leonardi study elephant seal pups?

2.  How strong are the pressures at the depths at which elephant seals hunt?

3.  What’s the most abundant and widespread class of animals?

4.  What are pinnepeds?

5.  What is the maximum pressure that seal lice are known to withstand? What depth is that pressure associated with?

6.  What are at least two of the mysteries that Leonardi and Claudio Lazzari hope to solve about these marine-dwelling lice?

After Reading:

1.  Why do you think biologists get so excited studying the traits of parasites? Is it because they care about the parasites, about their hosts or about something else? Explain your answer.

2. Parasites abound throughout the animal kingdom. Choose one and put together a poster on its most interesting and/or amazing traits. What are at least two things you’d like to know about this parasite for which you could find no answers? Imagine you are a scientist. Include on that poster how you would you go about finding those answers?