It’s nearly Valentine’s Day, which means one
thing: It’s time to show a little love for one of our most enigmatic
local creatures from the deep — the giant Pacific octopus. Yes, it’s
Octopus Week! Only this time without the sex.
Every February for the past decade, the
Seattle Aquarium has hosted this celebration of cephalopods, and these
8-armed mollusks give us plenty to ooh and ah over: shape-shifting
abilities that let them squeeze their bulbous bodies through pencil-thin
crevices; the ability to instantly change the color and pattern of
their skin to blend into their environs; and a surprising cunning and
The highlight of Octopus Week is usually the
“blind date,” in which the aquarists bring two of their octopuses
together to mate in front of a large audience. (Really, I could not make
this up.) Unfortunately, the octopus copulation has been cancelled this
year — not because it was deemed too sordid an affair, but because
staffers were worried that this year, one of the animals might get eaten
Ravelry contributor Anke Klempner used her creative knitting skills to realize something that we’ve long suspected: teapots look a lot like snails.
Anke designed an adorable teapot cozy that accentuates the teapot’s resemblance to a snail’s shell and adds a pair of eye stalks to complete the transformation. They really do look like cute snails, but with the added bonus that these charming mollusks won’t eat your garden plants.
Ukrainian nature photographer Vyacheslav Mishchenko shows us that snails are so much more than incredibly slow-moving mollusks who leave slimy trails and sometimes end up on people’s dinner plates. By looking at his photos we learn that snails appear to be curious, playful and even affectionate.
Shot in the woodland area near his home town in Berdichev, located in the Zhytomyr Oblast of northern Ukraine, Mishchenko’s beautiful photos are apparently unstaged. Instead he relies on an extraordinarily keen eye for spotting wildlife:
‘As a child, my father taught me to hunt mushrooms near my home and we would always come across all manner of bugs and creatures,’ he said. 'As I got older and my interest in photography grew, I decided I wanted to catch these magical scenes on camera.’
Below the thunders of the upper deep; Far, far beneath in the abysmal sea, His ancient, dreamless, uninvaded sleep The Kraken sleepeth: faintest sunlights flee About his shadowy sides: above him swell Huge sponges of millennial growth and height; And far away into the sickly light, From many a wondrous grot and secret cell Unnumbered and enormous polypi Winnow with giant arms the slumbering green. There hath he lain for ages and will lie Battening upon huge sea-worms in his sleep, Until the latter fire shall heat the deep; Then once by man and angels to be seen, In roaring he shall rise and on the surface die.
-Alfred Lord Tennyson, “The Kraken” (1830)
The Smithsonian is no stranger to sea monsters. In the 1916 Annual Report to the Board of Regents of the Smithsonian Institution, the curator of marine invertebrates, Paul Bartsch, introduces us to the molluscan class Cephalopoda, with the biography “Pirates of the Deep–Stories of the Squid and the Octopus,” Go to page 347 of the Annual Report to read more, although he doesn’t get to sea-serpent myths until 364.) It’s from this report that we’ve pulled these images to celebrate Kraken Day of Cephalopod Awareness Days.
Are they real? Most assume that the giant squid is responsible for most of these myths and legends. In the Oceans Hall of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, there is a long, counter-height tank with a specimen of a giant squid available to see in all its glory. It wasn’t until 2006 that anyone had actually documented video of the giant squid in its natural habitat.
Our upcoming exhibition, Fantastic Worlds: Science and Fiction, 1780-1910, opens mid-2015. If you’re a fan of the intersections between science and fiction, it’ll be worth the wait! We might even include something sea-monster related from Jules Verne’s Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea. You might also like a t shirt bearing an image from another aspect of the exhibition–space travel.
The Department of Awesomely Good Deeds is pleased to report that Swedish artist Stefan Siverud (previously featured here) is still hard at work decorating the shells of snails to help them stand out and thus prevent them from getting stepped on. In fact, he’s gotten so good at it that he now enhances some shells with miniature sculptures made of modeling clay in addition to paint. So some of his snail wear castles, crowns, volcanos, or even little island lighthouses on their backs.
Siverud playfully refers to this ongoing hobby as his Snailpimp project and he’s always careful to use non-toxic paints so that he doesn’t poison any of the patient little mollusks and counteract his own good intentions.
Toriel will only give you 3 real uses/facts about snails out of the 72 uses for snails. The forth is a joke and she will not give any different ones after that, no matter how many times you reload. This means that she doesn’t want to tell us the 69 uses for snails… clever Toby…. reminds me of that silly sexist joke “women have 72 uses, cooking, cleaning, washing, and 69.” (I don’t support sexist jokes please don’t sic the legions of social justice warriors of Tumblr on me)
Anyway, let me go give more interesting facts about snails 69. Snails have both a penis and a female opening located behind their head, as almost all are hermaphrodites and possess both male organs and female organs, so they have to link with another snail and exchange sperm so they both can fertilize their eggs. 68. Snails can be carnivorous. 67. Some Snails have flattened shells inside their body with their mantle covering the shell. 66. Snails die in salt because it is soluble and causes all the water inside the snails cells to exit and become replaced with solute, this is called osmosis and diffusion. This is why we can’t drink salt water or swim in salt water when we have bad burns destroying our skin. 65. Snails grow new larger chambers of their shell as they get older, meaning the very inside of the spiral of the shell is from when they were smaller, and the chamber that is at the opening of the shell is the most recent. 64. Snails can have special “doors” to their shells called operculum, which are hard circular parts that can be retracted and sealed, allowing the snail to be protected and last longer without drying out. 63. Snails have been eaten all over the world, not just in fancy French dishes. 62. Some species of snails have “love darts” which are arrow shape spiny calcified barbs that they will attempt to stab the other snail they are mating with, the barbs will inject chemicals that inhibit the sperm of the snail that is stabbed with it, basically like poison that acts as spermicide. this means the snail that stabs its mating partner first will gain the advantage of not having to be the female of the mating relationship and will not have to produce and maintain the energy costing eggs. the stabbed partner will become the female and have to gestate the eggs. 61. The study of snails is called conchology 60. due to the effects of buoyancy and high oxygen content in the deep ocean waters, the largest marine snails can grow up to 91 cm long and weigh up to 18 kg. The largest land snail can reach is 38 cm and 1 kg because of how heavy its shell is.
I could go on, but 59 more snail facts would take a long time to type out.
“One of my clients asked me to crochet a tiny lacy stegosaurus cozy for her baby tortoise, which happens to be the same size as our baby marginated tortoise, Buttercup. I had a little bit of the yarn left over… and so, not wanting to waste it, I made a snail cozy!”
With such adorable matching cozies, we’re hoping that the snail and Buttercup are headed for snug yet fashionable adventures. Or at least a really cute nap.