By Daniel de la Calle
In Spanish we call jellyfish “medusas”. Medusa was a beautiful young priestess in Athena’s Temple. She was desired by many men until she lay together on the temple floor with Poseidon, the god of the sea, and an enraged Athena transformed her gorgeous hair into serpents and her face into the one of a monster. From then on, those that dared look at her turned into stone. What a torrid story.
The sea nettle exhibit at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, the one that appears at the beginning of A Sea Change, was in my opinion more than eye catching. It made you revere nature.
We decide what is good and what is not and our minds adapt to that thought with frightening ease. Roses might be roses, but a plague is a pest is a bliss is a beast.
I once read that in New York City there is a rat for every person. I bet this is one of those exaggerations so good for shocking and scaring one another, a sentence that sticks in the head and is perfect to pepper dull chats with friends, to write in letters. As I am doing now.
Well, the ratio might be off, but it accurately depicts what we think and feel about rats (the pest) and about us. Nine Million, going strong, no plague in sight.
Until recently jellyfish were just seen as a beach goer’s annoyance of little use. For some reason, though, along sections of the coastal Chinese waters, where pollution and overfishing has finished with all else, they are thriving (as in “good, good”) and have become part of the diet. My guess is that we will soon follow suit, since eating seems to be a necessity here as well.
Last week in Spain the Portuguese Man o’ War was on the news because many (a “plague”?) had been spotted along the Catalonian beaches, dragged by the currents away from their usual habitat in Atlantic waters. “The assassin jellyfish”, said a cute reporter to the camera that brought her to my father’s living room.
Sea nettles are very abundant on Monterey Bay. There is a man that has made a business out of scooping them out and sending them to private aquariums around the country, but in most people’s eyes they are seen as, yes, a pest. Rumor has it that this is why their tank is gone.