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Life in the tide pool

In between other big projects, like organizing articles for the Fall magazine issue and reviewing layouts for the upcoming Summer issue, I’ve got a little time to work on the book project again. It’s going well, and I think I’ve finally found the right voice for it. I’ll know for sure in a month or two.

We’re also trying to make time to look at houses, which could be a full-time job if we let it. On Monday we reviewed about two dozen online, went into one, and drove by about a dozen more. Still looking…

So with all this work going on we haven’t had a chance to have any adventures the past few days. I’ll flash back to last week in Puerto Penasco. Down by the beach, the low tide reveals tide pools in the volcanic basalt, and these are filled with interesting sea creatures. Petey proposed that Emma collect some sea water, sand, and a few hermit crabs for study. (They’d be released when we leave.)

PP tidepool.jpg

A resealable plastic container was all we needed to make a miniature temporary aquarium for a sampling of tidepool sea life. Emma collected a layer of sand, some rocks, a little seaweed and four tiny hermit crabs, and with those simple elements we had a miniature salt water ecosystem right in our Airstream trailer. Petey, the grandmotherly instigator of this idea, added a few shells for decoration.

Life in the tidepool is more dramatic than you might think. Several of the hermit crabs began to do battle with each other, and before the evening was out we realized the “empty” shells turned out to have more hermit crabs, prompting Emma to suggest thinning the ranks before we had a fatality.

The next morning Emma was delighted to find that the water contained much more than just crabs. Tiny brine shrimp could be seen flitting around in the shallows, and in the corner a tiny white creature that looked like a miniature sea anemone was actively exploring one corner of its world, ingesting and regurgitating samples of sea water and brine shrimp. Suddenly our little plastic dish was an entire world.

PP hermit crabs.jpg

The hermit crabs were transformed from a home natural science project to temporary members of the family during our three days in Mexico. Emma named them all, and it was with great regret that she returned them to the tidepool on Friday.

Emma learned a little about life in the tide pool from this. We could all see the crabs foraging for food, establishing their position in the crab hierarchy, and co-existing with the other living things in the water. Each day the water needed refreshing, which was a good reminder of the needs of pets, too. I plan to point that out when the request comes for a puppy.

If there is an ideal pet for a few days in the Airstream, I will have to vote for hermit crabs again. They are silent, easy to care for, cute, free, hypoallergenic, they require no special equipment, and they have a built-in time limitation (once you leave the beach, they have to go).

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