Reach for the (sea) stars

julia touches a seastar at the sheddjulia touches a seastar at the shedd
photo by G of GAIN

The most thrilling thing for me last week was touching the tidal pool specimens. Real sea stars. Real sea urchins. Vermillions (actually a wide variety of colors), bat stars (see the orange one in the back with the “webbing” between the legs/arms), awesome stars!

The touch pool required me to wash and dry my hands, then use two fingers only on the top of the animal. The ones I touched were not hard, but rough and muscular. Sea stars come in all different sizes, which is difficult to understand when looking at a book.

Scale and relative size are very difficult when I look at all sea life. When I read the term giant octopus, I was thinking of something as large as a VW Beetle and 500 pounds. But that’s not what I saw behind the glass last week. (Remember the photo from the other day?) At the aquarium website, I see that

…adults are typically 16 feet from tip to tip and weigh between 50 and 90 pounds. Still, the giant Pacific octopus (Enteroctopus dofleini) is one of the largest octopuses in the world.

This is why field trips are very important to me. Tell me about your favorite field trip.

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