All Wrapped Up in Blue

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"All Wrapped Up in Blue"
 
Once upon a time, way out in the middle of the sea,

There lived a
scrawny, little slug that loved spending its days just cruising along and being free!

One day, while in the process of visiting the usual haunts, Suddenly..."Ah", it thought,
"What's this that I feel?"

"Why, there are tangly tentacles entwining all around me! Arghhh!  Oh my...this cannot be real!" 

Well, that little sea slug wriggled and squirmed, but it was all to no avail.

Thinking to itself, "I want to live - doin' my own thing - and not die; gettin' eaten up from head to tail!

Now, I'm being pulled up, uP, U
P into an undulating umbrella above me!

If I could only loose myself from these entwining tentacles - to just cruise along and be free! 

I can't bear the thought of it! Though, it sure looks like I'm going to be 'ham on rye'!

Ooooh -
warm and gooey  fluids are oozing all around me! What a way to have to die!" 

Now, all tangled up, that little sea slug waited and waited for the inevitable end to happen.

Though, even with all of this urgling and gurgling, it decided to get a short nap in!

Curling up real tight into a little ball; thinking that at least it could die while in dreamland...

Reminiscing of all the fun it used to have, just cruising around over the contoured sand! 

It was really hungry from all this tangling and dangling, and started to dream of a tasty dish.

Spaghetti was the only item on the menu. It was this little slug's last & final wish.

Dreamily holding the fork by none other than its foot, it twirled up noodles galore! 

It was quite a
slugfest going on. Old friends gathered 'round more and more! -size: 8.5pt; font-family: Tahoma">going on. Old friends gathered 'round more and more! 

Then,being startled back awake by a soft and soothing "coo"...
 
...Still a little groggy...it wasn't sure just who?... 

 The voice said, "There is nothing to fear, for we are together now, me and you.
So relax, & keep doing what you're doing.  You can have your cake and eat it too!" 

Well, that little slug had thought that all along spaghetti  was being given to munch. 


Instead, one of those tangly, dangly
tentacles was what it really was having for lunch!

 
With every gulp, let me tell you, that sea slug was no longer little.

Yes, it got bigger and bigger, the more that it continued to whittle-

-away at its new and unexpected companion. Would the feasting ever stop? 

"So hard to resist... mmm... so very tasty!...from its tentacle to its very top! "

Soon that sea slug, with its attached companion, found itself in sunny waters  basking. 

Its wish had been granted...and then some!   Getting much more than it had been asking! 

For, it had found a loyal companion that gave so another may increase. 

Together now, nourishing each other with a love that would not cease!

Yes, this undernourished slug, and this angelic-flowing jellyfish were truly destined to meet. 

It's a message to us right from Nature itself, how we could one day get swept off our feet!



 a bright and colorful sea slug nudibranch, Chromodoris kuniei Stock Photo - 7857850
(Copied from a biology text book where I got the idea for this story)
 
"Imagine, for a moment, that we are taking a brief trip to the beautiful sun-dappled Mediterranean. Specifically, we find ourselves in the Bay of Naples, many feet under water. This is an unusual place to begin a physics course.
 
It is customary to start out a few miles northeast, and on dry land, at the University of Padua, where Galileo did his ground-breaking experiments. But this is no ordinary physics course. We will get to Galileo in due time.

Eventually the object of this brief mental field-trip will appear, swimming past us, and I'll have to ask you not to pull back in disgust, because what you will see is a fairly large slug, of a type known as a nudibranch, undulating its way through the water.

I'm bringing this slug to your attention because it is a rather unique creature. Or rather, it is two fairly unique creatures. Because if you look closely, you will see, firmly attached to the bottom of the slug's body just below the mouth, an odd, semi-translucent bump. Every slug of this type that you see has exactly one of these bumps, in exactly the same place. But the bump is not part of the slug's body.

If you enquired further, you would find out that this bump is, in fact, a smallish type of jellyfish, known as a medusa. It seems to be entirely without the various tentacles you normally expect from a jellyfish; in fact, it contains merely the essential organs for living and reproducing, and depends completely on the slug for food.

Now, if you've had a biology class before, you're saying "I know what this is! It's a parasite! The jellyfish attaches itself to the slug and lives off of it!"

As it turns out, the story is much more interesting than that.

Both the slug and the snail are actively producing offspring. In the manner of most sea creatures, they simply release huge numbers of eggs into the water around them. If we follow the two as they grow up, we notice something odd. The medusa grows into a large and healthy jellyfish, much larger than the edited bump we later observe on the snail.

 
However, it doesn't produce any eggs; it seems unable to continue its line alone. Meanwhile, the newly hatched slugs seem only to be able to grow to a miniscule size, whereupon most of them die. A few of them, however, are sought out and snatched up by those same full-grown medusae, which pull them into the bell of their body as if to eat them.

What happens then is what makes this pair of creatures so bizarre. The slug, rather than being digested, feeds on the food in the medusa's stomach. Then, sudenly, it starts eating the stomach cavity itself, which spreads toward the rim of the jellyfish in narrow canals. Eventually, it tires of that, and eats up the tentacles, one right after another.

 
Finally, it trims off as much of the jellyfish's body as it can without causing damage, and leaves the truncated creature permanently affixed below its mouth. The slug has grown from eating as the jellyfish shrunk from the same cause, and now we find ourselves back in the situation that we originally observed.

Neither of these creatures can live on its own. If you put a bunch of medusae in a pool together, they would live for one generation and die out, unable to reproduce.

 
If you tried the same with a bunch of slugs, you would find them incapable of even reaching adult size. Both of them have instincts coded in their genes, telling them to seek out the other for this peculiar partnership; each knows from birth the particular smell of the other, finds and lives with exactly one of the other. They are less like two creatures than they are like two parts of one creature.

How about a non-toxic, human-powered festival concept, to keep protectin' these little guys?  

V click! V