I knew them as star fish, but since they are not very fish like they’re now sea stars. These beauties are at the Heal the Bay Aquarium at Santa Monica Pier. They are pretty amazing creatures. Not only can they hit 30 years of age, but they can grow a new leg if one is lost in battle. In fact, if enough of the center is attached they can actually become two sea stars. Clonal reproduction!
For the last eight weeks or so I have been looking at the Bay from the shore. True, I have enjoyed playing in the waves and swimming along the shore, but today was my first chance to get out into the Bay. I joined our aquarium team on one of their weekly collecting trips — getting kelp to feed the animals in the aquarium. As our aquariumist, Jose, says, it’s the weekly trip to the farmers market.
The Bay, and indeed the oceans, give us so much. After all they cover 71% of the planet and give us everything from the oxygen we breath, to the fish we eat, to the natural substances that thicken Jello. The list goes on. But a few hours on the bay gave me something different. A profound sense of the wonder of the ocean.
It really is a different world out there. The solid earth is replaced by the ever shifting fluid ocean. Wave upon wave. The powerful forces gently lifting our 14 foot dingy up and down as we leaned over the side straining for the kelp. The constantly changing play of light and shade on the water as the clouds and sun slid over head. Where we first encountered the kelp, the long tendrils reaching for the light lay down when they reached the surface– causing the ripples to flatten out leaving a glassy surface. The seals, sea birds, and even the odd kelp crab were at home out there. I was a grateful visitor.
Bobbing around on the surface of the vastness of the ocean gave me the same sense of walking amid the redwood giants. A sense of being a tiny part of the wonderful world.