Saturday, June 23, 2012

The Neighbors

This is a nudibranch. He's related to the slugs in your garden, but he's so much prettier. All those projections on his back that look like a shag rug are his gills. Some nudibranchs eat, among other things, the tentacles off of sea anemones.  Embedded in the tentacles of sea anemones are stinging cells called nematocysts.  The same kind of stinging cells on jelly fish to whom sea anemones are related. The nudibranch is able to munch away on those tentacles without triggering them to fire so all those stinging cells end up stored in those frilly gills and can be used by the little sea slug. His bright color warns potential predators that he's more than a mouthful.

Tube anemones live on the sandy bottom. They create their own leathery tube that burrows deep into the seabed. Their tentacles extend over a foot as they gracefully collect plankton. Each tentacle will delicately curl in on itself as it floats back to the center to slip silkily through the shorter tentacles to slide its tiny meal into it's mouth.  When the tentacles are brushed by possible danger the anemone can pull in it's tentacles in the blink of an eye.  However, sometimes a hungry little nudibranch is able to hold on for the ride. The anemone isn't killed, but it returns to the water column with a slightly less graceful mane. V sees the witches from Macbeth in this group of tube anemones.

We don't see these animals unless we are divers or have the chance to visit an aquarium, in this instance; the Monterey Bay Aquarium.  There is unbelievable beauty beneath the crashing waves and the gentle swells. Life forms that have existed since before man first walked this earth are in danger not just from industrial pollution, but from you and me.  Our carelessness and our laziness.   When you visit your local coffee house to get together with your friends, ask for your coffee to be served in a "for here" mug. Many coffee houses will give you a discount for not using a paper cup. If you get a snack have it served on a plate and not in a paper bag.  And don't forget your re-useable shopping bags--and not just for groceries. 

Here's a secret: It's not just for them that we do it. It's for ourselves.  A world where not everything turns to trash.  Permanence.  Less clutter.  More air. More room. More life. Really. We promise.

In bocca al lupo. m & v


  1. Oh, that was beautiful. I love how you are able to deliver a message that's important and timely, and do it with such style and grace. And, as usual, your photos were amazing.