14 August 2010


My plankter mind spent the morning in pursuit of sea monkeys. I can't recall anything else from childhood that made me so insanely excited. Here was the best of everything: Sea! Monkeys! Miniature! Really Truly Alive! I remember nights waiting for the mail to arrive filled with a deliciously itchily expectant sea-monkey insomnia.

The problem was I couldn't ever get mine to hatch. Ever. Maybe it was our chlorinated, fluoridated, and who-knows-what-elseated water. At any rate, sea monkeys provided a series of bitter early lessons:

  • Advertising deceives.
  • Sea monkeys don't live in the sea. 
  • Sea monkeys aren't monkeys. 
  • Money buys disappointment.
  • Expectations hurt.
  • What you love dies. 

Sea monkeys were only one link in a long chain of small, captured, and soon-to-be deceased animals littering my childhood, including toads, snakes, fireflies, guppies, gerbils, and baby birds. 

Today's wanderings led me to a memorable craigslist listing:

Sea Monkeys

Date: 2010-02-16, 7:16PM MST

Please rescue my son's Sea Monkeys.

The Sea Monkeys were a well-intentioned gift from a relative, but my son has poor vision and can't see them at all, so they've become Mommy's problem. We are moving and I have no idea how to transport them across the stateplus, I don't care. So, they would love a new owner. They come with their tank, food and food scooping spoon, and a little syringe and keychain thing in case someone wanted to suck Sea Monkeys out of the tank and carry them around for some reason. As shown except that our tank is red, not blue, and that the eggs have already been hatched.

They would be a great dorm pet as they don't take up any space and are quiet. Really, they would be a good pet for anyone. I'm not picky, I don't think they are either.

I realize that people feed Sea Monkeys to fish and such, and I have no problem with that, but I'm not interested in giving these creatures away for that purpose simply because it seems like a waste of all the plastic crap that comes with them. So please only take them if you actually want to keep them.

Thank you!

**Please do no flag and tell me this belongs in pets. Seriouslythey're Sea Monkeys. Come on.

Sea monkeys have come a long way since my day when we dropped them in a drinking glass full of water. Now there are all kinds of plastic habitats available for purchase, the production of which doubtless kills Really Truly Alive brine shrimp in the wild.

According to the official Sea-Monkeys® website, the modern monkeys are a product of high-tech aquaculture. Here's what they say, with characteristically jumpy grammer:

Sea-Monkeys® are a unique species of brine shrimp, known by the scientific name of Artemia salina x nyos. We not only unlocked the most elusive secrets of their life cycle, we created new formulas to keep them alive under conditions found in the average home—an accomplishment never before achieved! Resulting from the most exquisitely sophisticated “aquaculture technology”, by true pioneers in this science, only the utmost resources of a leading marine biological research center working for a span of many years has made this project a complete success. 
Thanks to new computer-driven processing technologies and ultra-pure, non-toxic chemicals, twice as many Sea-Monkeys instantly hatch, grow larger and live longer than ever before. You can expect your Sea-Monkey® tank to last about 2 years. An exact, pre-blended formula of "magic crystals" and live Sea-Monkey® eggs are inside the envelopes supplied in every Sea-Monkey kit. When added to water, live Sea-Monkeys® will hatch. That’s why anyone can get perfect results without any knowledge of chemistry or biology. Just by following the easy instructions you create Instant Life®. The only "extra" is the water.

The blog SeaMonkeyGeek—"the most complete sea monkey site ever assembled"—offers a treasure trove of sea monkey catches, including this audacious poem:

by Anon
Suspended and freeze-dried in a cozy foil shell,
What dreams do you dream (if you dream),
Pray do tell.

The moment of creation, you awake from the evil spell—
I'd like to be excited, but frankly I can't tell
if you're happy in you're new home or DOA in hell.

Purified and tranquil in the water that you dwell;

How many of your powdered brothers
did I spill outside your plastic vessel?

Low these many days I wait like a sentinel
For you to wear the crown in your little citadel.
My tiny, mucuslike backwash friend,
A brine shrimp without a cocktail.

I have a secret suspicion this poem may be the work of Richard Grossman, though I can't verify that.

The secret to brine shrimps' survival (or not) lies in an interesting life-history stage known as cryptobiosos, during which the eggs of the genus Artemia can survive in stasis (metabolically inactive) for up to two years. Kept in dry oxygen-free conditions, the eggs can withstand even the extreme temperatures of liquid air (−190 °C/−310.0 °F) and boiling water (105 °C/221 °F).

SeaMonkeyGeek (currently, seemingly, in cryptobiosis) also posts the lyrics to a piece of melodic existentialia by an Italian punk rock band The Bumpkins.

SEA MONKEYS (lyrics)

I'm a Sea Monkey
I jump into the water
and I grow up quickly for you

I'm a Sea Monkey
I just need something to eat
the chaos can't kill me

I don't know why children play with me
I don't know why children love me

I'm a Sea Monkey
Children will forget me
and my life will change

If I'm a toy
I don't need to eat
even if I'm hungry and tired

I don't know why children play with me
I don't know why children love me
I don't know why children forget me
I don't know why I was born here

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