The Episode of the Purse
I had a really great day at the aquarium today. The last few times volunteering have been a bit...draining, for various reasons. So it helped that, due to illness and other commitments, I took the last month off. I came into teaching with renewed vigor and excitement, and I was reminded how much I miss teaching.
We have a new octopus now. Meet Emrick.
All of my talks- on plankton, Pacific coral reef fishes, Orcas, seastar feeding, anemone clone wars, and sea cucumber breathing out the butt- went excellent. The crowd listened attentively and interestedly, eager to know why they should be afraid of Coke machines. The setups to get guests to put their fingers in anemone butts went perfectly. I really enjoyed talking with some of the guests. The children were really interested in the storytime, where I read The Whales' Song. (They were so cute, climbing over me to see pictures and find out how Lilly hears the whales call her name!) And there were large crowds for all of my talks. Until the plankton tow, that is.
The teaser for the plankton talk is two-fold- you get to see the kind of organisms that the movie Aliens was based on, and you get to participate in actual scientific practices. It's the only time this happens at the aquarium, as guests help in retrieving the plankton samples through repeated drops into the water. For the first time I had adults eager to throw out the plankton net.
Now, usually, I'm told, a woman keeps close watch on her purse, cognizant of its placement on her body and the collection of valuables therein. Sadly, not in this case. For as the young lady threw out the net, her arm went out, along with the black purse. There it was, floating in the mucky harbor 20 feet below us.
We tried repeatedly to retrieve it with the plankton net, but the bar across the net's mouth preluded retrieval, and eventually our efforts only resulted in the loss of the air bubble within the purse. The woman watched her expensive purse, with her ID and credit cards, as well as those of her friend's, disappear into the murky depths.
Needless to say, the guests found the Episode of the Purse vastly more interesting than the 7 million viruses in a tablespoon of seawater, and so I lost most of my crowd as I went in to see the organisms on the projecting scope. Divers will go down in the next couple days, but we are not optimistic. The water is dark, and the purse is black, and currents can rapidly move an object about the harbor.