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Celebrate Winter With Four New Paper Snowflake Templates

December 12, 2022

Celebrate the most wonderful time of year with our adorable Woods Hole Science Aquarium paper snowflakes! Enjoy four new designs inspired by a few of our aquarium residents: Atlantic cod, chain dogfish, common spider crab, and diamondback terrapin.

Collage of Atlantic cod, chain dogfish egg case, common spider crab, diamondback terrapin, medium blue on a dark blue background. “Paper Snowflake Templates.” NOAA Fisheries logo.

Get your paper and scissors out because it’s time for some winter craft fun! Enjoy these downloadable and printable snowflake templates. Decorate your walls, windows, ceiling, holiday tree, and even your holiday cakes with four new designs. They’re inspired by a few of our Woods Hole Science Aquarium residents

  • Atlantic cod
  • Chain dogfish 
  • Common spider crab
  • Diamondback terrapin

All you need to do is print the template, grab your scissors, and get folding and cutting. Want to create your own? We’ve got you! We’ve provided a blank template for you to create your own marine life snowflake!

If you’re on Facebook or Twitter, be sure to post a photo of your snowflake, tag us and use the hashtag #WHSASnowflakes. You can find us at @NOAAFisheriesNEMA on Facebook or @NOAAFish_NEFSC on Twitter. We can’t wait to see your snowflakes!


Print on 8.5 x 11 inch paper.

  • Cut the square template from the rest of the printed page.
  • Fold your square in half along the black lines to form a triangle. Fold each triangle in half another two times, always ending with the gray design area on top, facing up, and visible.
  • Cut away gray areas from the triangle, leaving white areas uncut.
  • The Atlantic cod and diamondback terrapin templates contain gray lines. Simply cut along the gray lines without cutting anything away. These cuts will be folded up to give your finished snowflake a 3D effect.
  • Gently unfold the cut template to reveal your aquarium animal snowflake. For the Atlantic cod, fold up the gill flap to give it a 3D effect. For the diamondback terrapin, fold up the cuts on its shell to give it a 3D effect.
  • Hang in a window or on the wall, from the ceiling, or on your holiday tree. Or, place your template over holiday baked goods, like a cake, and dust with powdered sugar or cocoa powder.

Warning: Snowflake cutting requires the use of scissors. Please carefully supervise children cutting out these templates.

Deck the Crab with Boughs of Algae

common spider crab snowflake, blue on transparent background.

The common spider crab is an oddly fascinating creature. They’re a bit gangly with their rather portly triangular body and comically long legs. They’re known as decorator crabs, because they deck themselves out with things they find in their environment like algae, seaweed, small invertebrates, shells, and other debris. They hold these items in place with nature’s own velcro—hook-like hairs on their backs called setae. Decorating themselves helps camouflage and protect them against potential predators like birds and fish. It’s a good thing too because they are quite slow moving. They’re unaggressive scavengers and have quite poor eyesight. To find food they use sensitive tasting and sensing organs located on the tips of their walking legs. They can be found in the oceans, bays, estuaries, and harbors from Nova Scotia, Canada, to the western Gulf of Mexico. This includes the town dock behind our science aquarium where we collect many of the spider crabs for our touch tanks and exhibits.

Download the common spider crab snowflake template (PDF, 1 page)

Feliz Navi-cod

Atlantic cod snowflake, blue on transparent background.

Atlantic cod are an iconic fish of New England. They were so abundant in our region that early explorers named Cape Cod for them. They’re such an icon that a wood-carved sculpture was recreated three times and is affectionately named “The Sacred Cod.” The first carving was destroyed in a fire at the Old State House and the second went missing during the Revolutionary War. The last one was created sometime in 1874 by an unknown artist. Then, on March 17, 1784, a prominent merchant and representative from Boston named John Rowe had it installed in the Old State House as a memorial of the importance of the cod fishery to the welfare of this Commonwealth. Today, it hangs in the Massachusetts State House as a symbol of prosperity.

We had Atlantic cod on exhibit until 2019. In May 2022, members of our Cooperative Research Branch’s spring Gulf of Maine Cooperative Bottom Longline Survey collected three specimens for us. They’re back on exhibit and doing well, enjoying feasts of herring, capelin, clams, blue mussels, shrimp, and special gel. Check out this video to see how we prepare and feed our aquarium residents.

Download the Atlantic cod snowflake template (PDF, 1 page)

Have a Holly Jolly Dogfish 

Chain dogfish (catshark) snowflake, blue on transparent background.

Chain dogfish are also called chain catshark and chain link shark. They can be found from Massachusetts to Florida and from the northern Gulf of Mexico south to Nicaragua in the western Atlantic Ocean. They have a distinctive black or brown chain-like pattern on their back and sides that helps them blend into bottom habitats. Chain dogfish lay rectangular box-shaped egg cases many call “mermaid purses.” Their egg cases are dark amber and about 2 inches long by 1 inch wide, with long spirally tendrils at both ends. We currently have two breeding pairs of chain dogfish on exhibit along with their egg cases and hatchlings.

We often get asked, ”How does the baby get out?” and “Why do I find so many mermaid purses on the beach?” To answer the first question, an opening at one end of the egg case forms when the baby chain dogfish is close to hatching. When it’s ready, the baby chain dogfish will wiggle its way out and begin swimming and feeding. To answer the second question, mermaid purses are quite lightweight. Any storms or windy days or strong currents and tides will often carry them until they wash up on shore.

Download the chain dogfish snowflake template (PDF, 1 page)

A Joyous Yuletide Terrapin 

Diamondback terrapin snowflake, blue on transparent background.

This template celebrates Stumpy—our charismatic and adorable adult diamondback terrapin. Diamondback terrapins are the only turtles in the United States that live exclusively in brackish waters, including marshes, coastal bays, and rivers. They can be found from Cape Cod, Massachusetts, to Corpus Christi, Texas, including Chesapeake Bay. They get their name from the distinctive diamond-shaped markings on their shells. Diamondback terrapins eat mollusks, fish, worms, insects, and crustaceans. We pamper Stumpy. He gets Grade A fish like herring and capelin, shrimp, and krill. Stumpy loves shrimp. He’s quite the messy eater, shredding food with his sharp claws and gulping down the shredded bits. We acquired Stumpy in 2008 when his caregivers were trying to rehome him. He’s been a visitor and staff favorite ever since! Stumpy loves following his tank mates around and playing a terrapin version of the kid’s game Red Light, Green Light with aquarium visitors.

Download the diamondback terrapin snowflake template (PDF, 1 page)

Create Your Own Snowflake

Do you have a favorite marine animal or plant you’d like to turn into a snowflake? Download our blank template to make your own snowflake masterpiece!

Download blank snowflake template large (PDF, 1 page)

Download blank snowflake template small (PDF, 1 page)

Last updated by Northeast Fisheries Science Center on March 22, 2023