For Educators


About the Game

The purpose of the game is to:

  • introduce science-based, educational concepts
  • raise awareness and interest in topics dealing with estuaries, water quality, tides, marine debris, and what YOU can do to help.

In-depth information on topics is available in the “Field Guide” in the game and in this section.


The game occurs inside the ecosystem of an estuary on the west coast of the United States. Following a young girl named Valerie, players interact with Oscar the sea otter, and the fictional Claminator, a geoduck clam. To succeed, players must learn about the factors that produce healthy estuaries, food webs, and why estuaries are essential to both ocean life and to humans. 

val meets oscar the otter

The game introduces keywords and raises topics that tie into multiple learning objectives.

Scene 1

  • Oscar the Otter meets Val and explains why his home is dying. He explains that people generate a lot of trash.
    Associated Keywords: threats to environment and habitat

  • polluted water way

    Game: Trash clean up and sorting/recycling - proper disposal activity.
    Associated Keywords: trash disposal and proper recycling

  • Val and Oscar meet the Oracle. The Oracle wants proof that they are true friends of the estuary and puts them up to a test.

  • Estuary Quiz
    Associated Keywords: what is an estuary, differences between a salt marsh and mangrove

  • Oracle is convinced that Oscar the Otter and Val ARE friends of an estuary and send them off to Challenge #1.

river clean up game

Challenge 1

  • River Clean Up - proper removal of water-flow blockages and trash from the water.

  • Activity - navigating between obstacles and removing water-flow obstacles.

  • Associated Keywords: land-based pollution, fishing gear, trash, waste, silt, toxic/undefined waste, proper removal tools

getting advise from the Oracle

Scene 2

Oracle is pleased, and now, since the water is flowing well, sends Oscar and Val to Challenge #2 – restoration by planting, bringing back the habitat.

Challenge 2

  • Restoring the Estuary by Planting
    NOTE: requires using in-game field guide

  • Ativity - drag and drop seeds into the ground to watch them grow. Different seeds grow in different habitat zones.

    * Planted correctly - the consumers return - drop the right consumers into their habitat zones.

    * Sufficient consumers returned - the predators come back - drop predators into the right what happens.

  • Associated Keywords: habitat zones, tidal zones, water quality, food web, tides and water levels

polluted world

Scene 3

Tragic component leading to Challenge #3.
Associated Keywords: liquid pollution, caring for your environment

Challenge 3

  • Fighting Liquid Pollution

  • Activity - Shoot the Pollution Monster

    * Answer questions the monster “throws” at you

    fighting the pollution monster

    * Increase your KP (Knowledge Power) - the more you used the Field Guide and the better you cleaned up trash throughout the game, the more KP you have to start with.

    * For more KP - click on the KP button and answer the question correctly.


Scene 4

Happy Ending

Restored estuary



Online Resources




  • Online Tides and Water Levels Tutorial
    This online tutorial explains what tides are, what causes them and more.

  • Tidal predictions for more than 3000 tidal current stations
    Unlike tide stations, which are normally located along the shoreline, most tidal current stations are located offshore in channels, rivers, and bays. These stations are often named for the channel, river, or bay in which they are located or for a nearby navigational reference point. A map or some personal knowledge of the area may help you identify stations.




ocean literacy brochre

Ocean Literacy Principles

Where Rivers Meets the Sea game is associated with the essential principals of ocean sciences (Ocean Literacy, The Essential Principles of Ocean Sciences, PDF 3.9Mb):

(5) The ocean supports a great diversity of life and ecosystems

  • (5f) Ocean habitats are defined by environmental factors. Due to interactions of abiotic factors such as salinity, temperature, oxygen, pH, light, nutrients, pressure, substrate and circulation, ocean life is not evenly distributed temporally or spatially, i.e., it is “patchy”. Some regions of the ocean support more diverse and abundant life than anywhere on Earth, while much of the ocean is considered a desert.

  • (5h)Tides, waves and predation cause vertical zonation
    patterns along the shore, influencing the distribution
    and diversity of organisms.

  • (5i) Estuaries provide important and productive nursery
    areas for many marine and aquatic species.


(6)The ocean and humans are inextricably interconnected.

  • (6b) From the ocean we get foods, medicines, and mineral and
    energy resources. In addition, it provides jobs, supports our
    nation’s economy, serves as a highway for transportation
    of goods and people, and plays a role in national security.

  • (6c) The ocean is a source of inspiration, recreation,
    rejuvenation and discovery. It is also an important element
    in the heritage of many cultures.

  • (6d) Much of the world’s population lives in coastal areas.

  • (6e) Humans affect the ocean in a variety of ways. Laws,
    regulations and resource management affect what is taken
    out and put into the ocean. Human development and
    activity leads to pollution (point source, non-point source,
    and noise pollution) and physical modifications (changes
    to beaches, shores and rivers). In addition, humans have
    removed most of the large vertebrates from the ocean.

  • (6g) Everyone is responsible for caring for the ocean. The ocean
    sustains life on Earth and humans must live in ways that
    sustain the ocean. Individual and collective actions are
    needed to effectively manage ocean resources for all.