Saturday, November 7, 2009

An Octopus's Garden

I've never gone deep sea diving. I have a family member who is a diver and her stories from the world below have made me long to try it someday. I have gone snorkeling, which is supposedly a lesser experience but I thought it was fantastic nonetheless.

There is a large flat screen TV in the doctor's office where I go for check-ups and it always plays the same movie, an IMAX feature about underwater life called Deep Sea. As I waited for some test results yesterday I watched some of the film and, as always, was absolutely mesmerized by what I saw. There are creatures living on the ocean floor that will positively blow your mind.

Here are some snapshots:

Something shaped like a human heart and resembling a woman's dress made of ornate red feathers moved through the water by continually bending itself in half, from front to back.

A creature that looked like a cross between and octopus and a starfish crept along the sea bed sucking up its food like a vacuum. It would occasionally bump into little yellow clams that would then frantically swim away by opening and closing their "mouths". At one point the octopus-starfish lifted one of its "arms" to reveal thousands of little legs underneath, which propelled it forward.

A shrimp-like creature with an expressive face that made it look almost human. At one point it reared up on its tail and roared, its jaw a sudden, gaping trap, its multiple arms splaying open, its colours changing from matte to florescent. This thing went from quirky-looking crustacean to menacing disco-predator in a blink.

There was no sound coming from the TV so I watched all of this and more in silence, the underwater camera moving slowly and gracefully through this magical world. By the time I was called in by the doctor I was in a kind of meditative state, full of wonder and awe.

At one point during the film, the amazing fact that all of this was taking place underwater hit me anew. What is a hostile environment for us is a natural environment for these sea animals. Without a breathing apparatus, we die underwater. Likewise, the air we breathe would kill them.

Yes, this is totally obvious. Big deal. We know this. But, no. Isn't it something? Is this not an astonishing truth? Their air is liquid!

Maybe you had to be there...

Inspiring Message of the Day: Nature can provide the deepest inspiration. When I encounter yet another aspect of Nature's portfolio I am reminded that I am a part of the whole, not the whole part.

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