Biology in Motion

We recently had the fortune to go snorkeling in St. Croix. Adam and Rosa were with me.

Rosa had just learned to swim. She had previously been timid about the water, but her fascination with biology took over as soon as we put a snorkel mask on her and she could see the sea floor. She saw a starfish, and took off in the water like a dolphin, forgetting her timidity in a mad rush for the starfish, because she realized that swimming would allow her to see the animals she read about up close.

She held onto my arm and we swam across the shallow plain of waving sea grass. And got lucky. Because the next creature we saw was an tiny octopus. At first, I thought it was some kind of toadfish, and then I saw its streamlined tentacles flowing behind it as it shot out over a dip in the grass. We followed it, hanging back to keep from threatening it. It became clear that it was aware of us, and was ignoring us in favor of hunting. We watched it attack a small lobster and an overly-curious fish. It missed both. Then it sank down to the waving grasses with what I could swear was an irritated glance at us, and vanished. Its chromaphores changed, and it blended with the grass. If we hadn’t known it was there, it would have been invisible, except for its strange infinity-shaped pupils, staring at us as if to say, “F*** off! Can’t you see I’m trying to hunt? You’re screwing up my game!” It made its point by going for my swim fin. So we left it to its territory.

This was one of the most amazing things I have ever experienced. And I know that Rosa is now hooked on swimming and on the ocean. Hell, I kind of want to go back to school for marine biology.

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