The Black Pearl
by Scott O'Dell, Houghton Mifflin - Newbery Honor Book 1968
Activities 2000 Nancy Polette

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Like the other children in the town of La Paz on the sea, Ramon grows up hearing about the "Manta Diablo", a terrible sea monster. Although he is the son of the owner of a pearling fleet, Ramon has never had to face the dangers of the deep himself. When he turns 16, he vows not only to become a diver, but to find the greatest treasure of all, the Heavenly Pearl. Little does he know that in making his dream come true, he will discover that the Manta Diablo is much more than a fairy tale used by mothers to frighten their children into obedience.
The Manta Diablo is a central figure in this novel. How much that is said about the Ray do you believe is true? Research rays on the internet.

Manta Ray-Internet:

Manta Ray-Books
Sharks and Rays: A Look Inside Series by Keith Bannister. Readers Digest, 1995

Create a Fact and Fiction Book of Rays using these statements.
On one page write the words True or False and one of the statements. On the next page tell whether the statement is true or false and why.

______ 1. Some mantas weigh almost three tons.
______ 2. Some mantas grow to more than twenty feet.
______ 3. Many Mantas lie on the sea floor and eat small sea creatures.
______ 4. A manta has a mouth so big a man could easily put his head into it.
______ 5. The manta uses its arm- like lobes to capture its prey.
______ 6. Mantas eat shrimps and crabs.
______ 7. Some mantas have a pilot fish which swims in and out of its mouth.
______ 8. A manta can break a man's neck with a flick of its tail.
______ 9. A manta can wreck the strongest boat with one flipper.
______ 10. A manta has the intelligence to pursue someone it dislikes.

Read this speech of the bragging Sevillano

"I crushed the life out of an octopus larger than any you'll ever see. , What! You dare to doubt me? I'll tell you only once what I told that spoiled, worthless son of Salazar's: Guard your tongue. Tangle with me and you'll wish you'd angered the Manta Diablo instead! You'd rather snatch the Heavenly Pearl from that stingray sea monster and face his wrath than have to deal with mine! You'd rather your arm was in the grip of a burro clam than up against my knife. You'd rather be in a black lagoon with no harpoon to defend yourself against the devilfish and needlefish than to be up against me!"

Sevillano's speech is filled with statements that may or may not be true, particularly his references to a huge octopus and the Manta Diablo. There are many legendary tales of sea monsters. In 1993 Louise Whitts found and took pictures of an unknown aquatic creature in Scotland. You can see these pictures on the web site: Sea Monster On Parade. Experts can't identify it. Some think it is a cousin of the Loch Ness Monster. Others think it is the result of Defense Ministry experiments. Still others think it might be the result of fallout from Chernobyl, the 1986 nuclear disaster. List the theories in the pattern that follows, adding your own theory. You might find additional help in developing YOUR theory by visiting the site, Sea Monsters That Weren't.


Sea Monsters: Books
Water Monsters by Brian Innes, Raintree,1998
Manatees by Homer Seward. Rourke Pub. 1998
Monsters of the Deep by Janet Perry. Gareth Stevens Pub., 1999

What was Louise Whitts' sea monster?
Was it__________________________________________________________
(Or could it have been_____________________________________)________
________________________________________    Perhaps it was caused by
___________________________________ But I really believe that the monster _______________________________________________________________