July 17, 2007
This may just look like a bunch of boring rocks to you, but to me, it’s an invitation to peer into the private lives of tons of marine creatures and sea vegetables. And that’s just what I got to do this weekend, as a happy participant in the annual beach walk that the world famous Friday Harbor Laboratories hosts. A dream come true for this wannabe marine biologist: there were several scientists along for the day, and I spent the better part of a couple of hours with one who was patient enough to answer all my burning questions about kelp, algae, eel grass, sponges, snail eggs and nudibranchs (no, those aren’t something you see at a peep show).
I was fascinated to learn that in fact, there are no answers yet to two of my longtime queries: 1. why do sea stars choose to glom onto each other in packs? and 2. what makes them such a wide range of color?
It’s good to be reminded that in the face of advanced marine science, sometimes the simplest questions even a child (or a child-like adult like me) might ask remain as quizzical to the experts as to the rest of us. I find it oddly reassuring that, as with music, it’s even more compelling and wonderful when the mysteries remain.