August 11, 2008

Walk on the beach

Mere moments outside St. John's is the Memorial University Ocean Studies centre - right here on the edge of Logy Bay. Imagine for a moment that this -

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is where you go to school to learn about the sea. Pretty good deal, eh? (We may have been presenting this as an idea, but because we are very cagey parents we were very subtle about it and simply ran about the lab shrieking "Wouldn't this be GREAT!!) Outside the lab (where you can't go unless you're a student, but doesn't it look INTERESTING!!) there's a big water table full of stuff from the ocean. A third year student in Marine Biology comes outside when you turn up and teaches you all about everything. It sounds a little silly, but it was one of the neatest things we did. You can touch everything (mind the crabs- they touch back) and hold everything and we loved every minute of it. Even the almost 17 year old was hugely amused.

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See this?

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It's a sea cucumber. Sea cucumbers fill themselves with sea water - this one is emptying himself (herself? I suspect it's hard to tell) of all the water because he's nervous. (I know humans with the same problem.) When he was done he was considerably deflated, which is sort of the goal, he's trying to look less delicious. The girl told us that if he was really panicked, he would take very drastic measures, which include expelling much of his internal organs in the same way. The idea is that the predator after him would then be distracted and eat those, and the cucumber would use that time to escape, hide somewhere and re-grow his innards. Hell of a plan really.

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This is a little sea peach (I'm holding it. It was not firm.)

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This is a scallop. See the black dots around the edge? Those are its EYES. (I'm serious. I wouldn't lie to you. Plus, I asked the girl "seriously?" and she was all "why would I make something like that up?" The whole thing just seems so implausible, doesn't it? I mean... eyes?

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Sea Urchin. Very stiff, very spiky.

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Sea star. (What a great colour. They were all brilliant.) The girl stroked the mouth of the thing and this is what happened.

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That's how it eats. If it finds something good, it ejects its stomach, surrounds the yumminess, digests it, then brings the stomach back in. I know that seems like a risky manoeuvre, but the oceans full of these things, so it must be ok. After learning all about this stuff, we went walking down on the beach at Outer Cove. (In capelin season, the fish "roll" on the beach. So many of them come in that people scoop them with buckets. Millions of fish. Millions.) We walked along and we all did what we liked best.

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Old Joe threw rocks.

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My Joe tried to remember why he left home.

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Sam thought that maybe becoming a Marine Biologist would be a good job.

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I took pictures with a sock. (No starfish were harmed in the making of this blog entry.) I am indeed coming along on the second sock of the Hibiscus for Hope pair, despite my yarn getting stuck in the mail. It was to be delivered on Friday, but that ended up being Regatta day, and that meant that it wouldn't have arrived until the next mail day, which was today (Monday.) Being a city girl, I thought that there was nothing that could be done about that, but I forgot where I was in the world. Joe called down to the National Purolator office on Friday, got the number for the St. John's office, explained how much I really wanted that package, and they went into the back and fetched it for him, and he picked it up from the depot on Saturday. No issues.
I couldn't believe it. "Welcome to Newfoundland" Joe said.

PS. For all of you who noticed my eldest daughter Amanda missing from that family photo yesterday... Yup. She's not with us. She's 19 now, in between her first and second year of college and working this summer. No time to lolly-gag around with all of us. I miss her a lot. I keep thinking "Amanda would love that" or turning to tell her something. Funny, I thought my kids would go on vacation with me forever.

Posted by Stephanie at August 11, 2008 8:43 AM