From where?

April 1, 2006

venusThe birth of Venus, as delicately painted by Botticelli over five hundred years ago, portrays the myth of how Beauty “supposedly” came into the world. Beauty, in this instance, being portrayed as a woman.

But aren’t we short changing nature’s role in all this? By making humans the symbol (albeit a good looking one), isn’t this “a maiming of beauty when it is made personal” (to paraphrase D.H. Lawrence)?

Let’s correct this anthropocentric error. Since the human has emerged from the sea on a vessel of the sea, let’s dedicate and delegate the sea shell as the most potent symbol to represent beauty. Marvellous idea, yes?

The important next question is: Where are sea shells born?

shell_kelp_2shell_kelp_1I don’t know about the rest of the world, but the shells found at Roaring Beach seem to be born on the backs of the rare bull kelp species, kelpus submarinphilia elongi gigantica.

A few years ago active volcanic sea mounts were discovered off the coast of Tasmania. This year advanced scientific research voyages by CISRO accurately identified and mapped tall, undulating forests of the above rare kelp along the warming ridges of the volcano’s vents.

shell_kelp_7What is most exciting, however, is that they found hidden throughout these dense kelp forests many hundreds of sea shell nurseries with the most common shell being the screw shell. The odd, fascinating twist in all this is that it appears that a fish is necessary for the propagation of the shell. For screw shells to come into existence, screw fish are required. And, as mysterious as what drives the salmon and eels, screw fish from the north Atlantic are guided through the oceans by an ancient homing device to find their way to these forests of kelp in the Southern Ocean.

shell_kelp_4Once into the forest, the undulating kelp acts like multiple oiled hands and excites the swimming screw fish. Eventually, the movings and the rubbings bring forth a release of seed that is deposited along the slippery, fingering kelp.

How long the gestation period is, is still open to conjecture, but eventually bulges begin to form beneath the skin of the kelp. Shortly after this, the taut, bulbous top skin of the kelp bursts open and the fully sized, spiralling sea shell floats away to find its way to a Tasmanian beach.

Isn’t the world of nature a totally amazing, wow place?

shell_kelp_8Here at Roaring Beach screw shells are found in abundance, but occasionally, the more rare remnant of the shell’s afterbirth washes ashore. This week, I found one. And, as luck would have it, I was able to match it up with a screw shell that had arrived on the beach months earlier.

Speaking of month, what is today’s date? Gosh, another April Fool’s Day.

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