The ship's camera equipment is inoperable (not working)! We need more than written records of the size and species of fish we have caught in our research and study of the fisheries. We must resort to "Gyotaku".

Goyotaku (guh-yo-tah-koo) originated about 100 years ago in Japan as a way for sports fishermen to record the exact size and species of fish they had caught. Fishermen sometimes exaggerate about the size of the fish they have caught. Goyataku prevented that. Using this method of recording fish catch will also allow us to eat the fish, thus not wasting a valuable resource. Once our camera equipment is repaired and operable we will no longer need to rely on this ancient art.

When studying fish, external anatomy can be measured and identified on a well-done gyotaku print. Marine biologist and ichthyologists (fish experts) presently use fish printing to keep records of fish anatomy for future study. A fish print will often show certain features such as the lateral line in much greater detail than even a photograph. Who knows, you many want to continue this method of record keeping even after the camera equipment is repaired.

FYI: Gyo means "fish" and taku means "impression".

Fish prints are reprinted here with permission from LORI's NATURE PRINTS.


Your team's mission is to:

1. make Goyataku (fish prints) of our fish specimen

2. label the anatomical features revealed on your fish print, and

3. describe how the creation of fish prints could be of use to researchers and scientists in their studies of fish.

Below are some outside resources that may help you on your mission:



Nature Through Science & Art by Susie Criswell (grades 3-6)

Nature Printing With Herbs, Fruits, Flowers by Laura Bethmann (ages 8 to adult)


Your team will be assessed on:

Note to teachers: If you do not wish to use real fish for this activity, you may order soft rubber replicas (cast directly from real specimens-6-10" long) from NASCO (

You will find step by step directions on the websites listed above or by going to:

OCEANWORLD - an educational website created by the TOPEX/Poseidon Education Team at Texas A&M University through funding by NASA

Click on "Teachers' Workroom (Activities)".

Lesson Ideas created/adapted by Margaret Hammer (Graduate Research Assistant) and Judith Kenworthy (Technology Mentor Fellowship Associate) Texas A&M University. All comments and questions can be directed to

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