Sunday, January 26, 2014

The Weekly MUSE: Sea Monkeys

I had heard of Sea Monkeys, and I had seen the Sea Monkey kits on many store’s shelves. But I never thought that the little packet inside the kit could truly hold LIFE!

I was WRONG!

Last week, I finally purchased my very own Sea Monkey Ocean Zoo. I followed the instructions, and sure enough, as you saw in the video, I am now the proud father of at least 50 Sea Monkeys.
Sea Monkeys
Photo by: Perry Marco

But are they really MONKEYS?

No. They are actually a type of brine shrimp.

Brine shrimp are crustaceans, related to crabs and lobsters. And what makes these creatures EXTRA cool is that their eggs can survive up to 50 years without hatching, at least this is the case for the Sea Monkey variety.

Sea Monkeys create their own trehalose, which is a substance they secrete over their eggs to keep them safe from extreme temperatures and the lack of water. Once coated, the eggs can live up to 50 years. Once the conditions are JUST right, the eggs will hatch. This is why the envelope of eggs can sit on a store’s shelf until a curious buyer takes them home and adds water.

In my case, the eggs hatched overnight, and they grow bigger every day.

I've kept them near a window above a heat vent, and I feed them the algae powder that was included inside the kit. By the looks of it, a nice crop of algae is growing at the bottom of the tank and the Sea Monkeys are happily feeding.

Sea Monkey's eat powdered algae

And as long as I take care of these Sea Monkeys, they can live up to two years – maybe more.

Here are some more interesting Sea Monkey Facts:

They breathe through their legs, and they are born with three eyes. They lose this third eye by adulthood. STRANGE!

You can tell that your Sea Monkeys are well fed if they have a green or brown stripe running down their bodies. This is a full digestive track.

Male Sea Monkeys are always smaller than the females. And they will reproduce in your tank. If you see a Sea Monkey with a brown pouch under her body - that is an egg sack.

Sea Monkeys do not have brains. Instead, they have a grouping of nerves called “ganglia”.

Brine shirimp have been around since the Triassic period (around 250 million years). And most brine shrimp are found in salt lakes, not the ocean.

If you would like to purchase your own Sea Monkey Ocean Zoo, you can find them at most toy retailers or just click here.

This is all you need to grow your first Sea Monkeys

With this new knowledge, what kind of story could you write? Maybe these what if questions will help you get started.

WHAT IF your setting was inside a Sea Monkey tank? What do the Sea Monkeys think of their new world after being inside their time-capsule eggs?

WHAT IF your main character was a kid scientist who had figured out a way to coat human beings with a substance like trehalose? Would this keep humans alive 50 years longer than normal?

WHAT IF your main character bought an ordinary Sea Monkey kit but did not grow ordinary Sea Monkeys? How are these Sea Monkey’s different? Does this contribute to the conflict in the story?
The possibilities are endless, and please leave your own what if questions in the comment section below. I’d love to see what you come up with.

So, grab a pencil and a piece of paper, and let’s begin. With your imagination, we can go anywhere. I look forward to seeing where you take us.

With Imagination,

Professor Watermelon

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