When fellow bloggers remind me that I am living in a virtual paradise (please see comments on my previous post), I consider it my duty to investigate their assumption. Hubby and I visited Pensacola Beach on Sunday and found the red flags flying for good reason. The surf was rough and DANGEROUS! The only people allowed in the water wore wet suits and rode flimsy boards. All other reasonable souls ate lunch, walked, and observed life on land.
These prints in the sand do not belong to us. Hubby and I wore sandals on the beach because we found lots of interesting blue blobs littering the beach. I initially thought they were jellyfish, but Hubby remembered that they are much more dangerous than mere jellyfish. They are PORTUGESE MAN (MEN?) O' WAR! Even busy people like the first Prince Albert of Monaco found them fascinating enough to enlist the help of renowned scientists to study them. The original Prince Albert, as a young man, had the foresight, intelligence, and initiative (and lest we forget, lots of time and money!) to explore the forbidding waters of the Arctic Circle and open an oceanographic institute in Monaco. It is too bad the current Prince Albert of Monaco found chasing skirts more to his liking as a young man than seriously following in his progenitor's footsteps. For some reason, in the last several years, he has suddenly discovered the old man's passion and has jumped on the global warming bandwagon (ship?). It had very nearly left him behind.
I was glad for once that Micah was not with us on the beach because he would have been tempted to pick one up and could have been injured. These creatures, though they appear harmless and quite beautiful, can pose serious threats to curious or careless people. They should definitely not be handled or stepped on. Anaphylaxis can even occur in some people who are hypersensitive to the toxins in their long tentacles, traces of which can linger on objects such as shoes and beach toys. In spite of their dangerous methods of capturing prey, they are not without their own predators. They do provide food for various fish as well as loggerhead sea turtles.
Hubby has been suffering lately with a head cold, and a warm day at the beach helped clear his sinuses and some muddled thoughts in my own head. Just a few hours spent watching the waves and the curiosities they leave behind them can do that for just about anyone who likes to ponder.
Below the thunders of the upper deep,
Far, far beneath in the abysmal sea,
His ancient, dreamless, uninvaded sleep
The Kraken sleepeth: faintest sunlights flee
About his shadowy sides; above him swell
Huge sponges of millenial growth and height;
And far away into the sickly light,
From many a wondrous and secret cell
Unnumber'd and enormous polypi
Winnow with giant arms the lumbering green.
There hath he lain for ages, and will lie
Battening upon huge sea-worms in his sleep,
Until the latter fire shall heat the deep;
Then once by man and angels to be seen,
In roaring he shall rise and on the surface die.
--a poem by Alfred, Lord Tennyson--