The Amazing Creatures of the Pacific

I was early for class so I stopped in briefly at Mad Monk Center For Anachronistic Media then at Moe’s Book Shop on Telegraph. There was a large table, maybe labeled staff favorites or perhaps it had no label at all. As I glanced around, a small book with exquisite illustrations* caught my eye and I leafed through it. Inside were more colorful illustrations and each page was devoted to one or more of the inhabitants of Pacific Tidal Pools. I’ve been to tidal pools, always enjoy Fitzgerald Marine Reserve down by Moss Beach, but I know next to nothing about the inhabitants of the pools. I’ve never studied Marine biology.

I made the purchase, placed it in my purse, and didn’t give it a thought until the next day, riding home on BART. I had a seat so I took out the book – time to read up on these life forms. What I found in those pages was a brain teaser, things difficult to get my mind around. I couldn’t believe I wasn’t reading science fiction.

I read about the Aggregating Anemone which can split itself into two clones which, in turn, can follow suit. The resulting Anemones cluster together in a colony and will do battle should another, similar colony of clones, intrude into their space. Imagine if you could leave a part of yourself behind in a painless way – maybe a tear or a drop of sweat. And then, without any nurturing, parenting or encouragement by you, the original you, it could grow into another you! And what you were missing would regenerate making you whole again. The Strawberry Anemones share these cloning talents.

The Frilled Anemone can reproduce asexually by splitting in two. No nurturing needed here either. Imagine this skill as a procreation possibility for those who choose a celibate life.

Brooding Anemones are born female but as they grow, they develop testes and continue till death as a hermaphrodite.

Not to be outdone by the Broodings, all Owl Limpets are born male but at a certain stage, when they are bigger in size and more mature, they all transition to female.

Imagine if all women dropped dead after giving birth. That’s pretty close to the female Giant Pacific Octopus that dies as soon as her eggs hatch. I think these hatchlings are self-sufficient as the book didn’t mention the male octopus taking part in any nourishing or nurturing of these tiny creatures once mama was gone.

A type of Turkish Washcloth can live up to 90 years producing descendants that grow from spores, year after year. These descendants only survive for all of a year while their originator may be around for decades longer.

I had no idea we were sharing the planet with such fantastic creatures.

*Fylling, Marni (2015) Fylling’s Ilustrated Guide to Pacific Coast Tide Pools, Berkeley CA: Heyday

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