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Color Chicago's Smallest Inhabitants On These Cool Coloring Book Pages

 Great Lakes coloring sheets 

  
Great Lakes coloring sheets
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CHICAGO — Taaja Tucker believes amphipods, water bears, isopods, crayfish, giant water bugs and larval catfish should be celebrated in color.

Tucker, a lab and field technician at the University of Toledo and U.S. Geoglogial Survey Great Lakes Science Center, creates coloring sheets featuring tiny and obscure Great Lakes animals.

The pages, which can be downloaded here, showcase animals that can be found in the city's Lake Michigan, Wolf Lake, Calumet River and Chicago River waters, Tucker said.

"The coolest part about making these sheets is handing them out to kids and watching them get excited about bugs, which is something I feel like a lot of adults grow out of," Tucker said. "It's also really fun for me personally, because I get to show people the animals I study in a way that shows them living their lives, not sitting in a vial or under a microscope."

RELATED: Lake Michigan's Smallest Inhabitants Look Like Aliens

Tucker came up with the coloring sheet idea after looking at different invertebrates under the microscope for work and then doodling them "all over everything." When trying to identify the creatures, she looked through guidebooks that contained "very sterile and lifeless" pictures, Tucker said.

"I wanted to draw them in scenes where they were actually moving around and interacting with each other," Tucker said. "It's also really fun for me personally because I get to show people the animals I study in a way that shows them living their lives, not sitting in a vial or under a microscope."

Tucker said the smallest of creatures serve as indicators of water quality, and local groups like Friends of the Chicago River usually have monitoring programs that work with students.

For more information on the coloring sheets, click here.