Winter Immersions

Posts February 26, 2024 2 Comments

Winter can be a challenging time for merpeople. Especially New England merpeople. Our tropical relatives do just fine. When I saw next weekend’s forecast for 60 degree above water temperatures, I thought it would be a great day to go home – meaning underwater. Then I saw that our New England waters are still under 40 degrees, and, well … I haven’t ruled it out. With the brrrrrr-ness of our home waters, we need to meet our needs in other ways. So let’s do it!

I may not be visiting my New England underwater friends much right now, but I haven’t stopped thinking about them. Winter is a great time to immerse one’s self in other creative ways to stay connected with the ocean. And … when we’re lucky … to visit some of their tropical relatives. I’ve been fortunate to have done both since the New Year.

My merman and I went off to Roatan, a beautiful Honduran island. Well … what a dream come true … I met a REAL MERMAID! Really, I saw her and she had a brightly colored beautiful tail, and her name is Lexi. My merman is my witness! To be clear, Lexi is definitely a tropical mermaid, quite different from us New England mermaids. She does have that beautiful, graceful look, requires much less natural insulation for warmth, and can pose for a glam shot at anytime. Don’t get me wrong – us New England mermaids are spectacular in our own right – just a different, less main-stream, media-ready kind of awesomeness. Lexi really is a true professional mermaid – this is her job! She was on vacation, and, while a skilled free diver, she had just learned to dive. How ironic – the professional mermaid just learning to stay underwater! She told me how she studies the movements of Humpback Whales and learns from them. She was delightful to get to know. A real tropical mermaid – what a gift!

Besides spending time with my tropical mermaid relative, I also had the joy of spending some up close and personal time with relatives of some of our local underwater friends. I was preparing to get back onto the boat after a beautiful dive, and met these lovely squid just hanging out by the mooring line right under the surface. We spent quite a few minutes together – they were quite accepting of my hanging out with them. I was the last mer-person to get back on the boat, but this was just too lovely a meeting to pass up. I mean, just look at those beautiful blue eyes! I totally get that this is not the best framed photograph, but it is the most in focus – to see those eyes! Those eyes looking right at me – what a wonderful encounter.

I have had frequent visits with many of their relatives here at home, so I look forward to telling my local squid friends about our visit when I see them next. You and I will talk more about squid another day – they are just so fascinating. Their relatives, the octopuses (yes, we have learned in a previous post that this is the correct plural form, even though it’s fun to say octopods, octopi, basically octo-anything), tend to be more well-known, but these cuties are wonderful to visit, and they are usually easier to find, unlike their often hidden octopus cousins. Squid are amazing! Aside from having beautiful eyes, they are intelligent and social. As far as intelligence, I’ve heard that they have the intelligence level of a typical dog – and I mean a smart dog, not the ones that, while amazingly loveable, seem to have missed out on the brainer part of the gene pool. If you have one of those dogs, you know what I mean. As far as social lives, on this day, there were 5 squid hanging out together, so they apparently like small gatherings rather than huge parties, and they don’t go to school (get it? see what I did there?). Kind of like me and many other mer-people, we prefer nice intimate gatherings over super-crowded loud parties. Merpeople and squid agree – Friends are fun!

Stream of consciousness takes me to a recent winter immersion. Squid are, of course, invertebrates. By now, you know that I am a marine invertebrate geek. That’s really important for New England mermaids, because we have a lot of marine invertebrate friends underwater. Visiting with squids and octopuses are, of course, quite different than visiting with our sessile (new word alert!) non-moving friends like corals and anemones, and I love those small little relatively immobile friends just as much. What you may not know about me is that I also love glasswork. Something about the pseudo-transparency of colored glass evokes water. I think it is just so beautiful. So … this mermaid loves marine invertebrates, even itty bitty ones, and loves glasswork. Imagine how excited I was to learn that there is a very soon to be ending exhibit at the Mystic Seaport Museum, called Spineless – life-size, accurate depictions of marine invertebrates. Really! Who knew that there was an audience for such an exhibit – besides me of course! It reminded me of a niche business that my merman and I were very excited about when we decided to buy our house 30 years ago. He loves fish and chips (I don’t), and I love Indian food (he doesn’t). Less than 2 miles from our soon-to-be new home was (I could not make this up) a Fish & Chips / Indian Food restaurant. This was our place – it was meant to be. Apparently, we were too niche of a market, because by the time we moved in, the restaurant was no longer in business. How disappointing! This exhibit, unlike the restaurant, does apparently have a much-wider target audience, going back to the 1800s. It was then that a glassworker created these amazing replicas for use in science and education. Many of the earlier fans were unable to be in attendance, but I was thrilled to be there! Below are some pictures that I took, in order of appearance: one of the display cases, a close-up of one of the anemones in the display, and, in keeping with our cephalopod talk, a little glass octopus.

To see this exhibit up close and personal, I have not given you much notice. It is about to end, so you need to get yourself there sometime Thursday, Feb. 29th and Saturday, March 2nd. Good thing it’s a leap year, so we get that extra day. OK – I know it doesn’t work that way, but the thought amuses me. Check it out here:

On the topic of our 8-armed friends, another wonderful winter immersion was reading a book that I highly recommend – “The Soul of an Octopus” by Sy Montgomery. This is about true experiences, and, added bonus for me, it takes place at one of my above water familiar places, the New England Aquarium, where I was once a volunteer and met many marine animal friends.

Ah, but we were talking about the museum, and there’s more! Another incredible immersion. And this one is much bigger in scale, thousands of times bigger, than the itty bitty glass sculptures. Oceanus is a group of 10 huge watercolor painting by artist Alexis Rockman. These paintings were commissioned by the seaport, designed to tell stories and send messages about history, sciences, threats to our oceans, the beauty of our oceans, and more. I expected to love it. I loved it more than I had expected. There is so much to take in, I just had to buy the book! I can’t wait to immerse myself in that. You have until April 28th to immerse yourself in this exhibit. Check out this picture of the feature painting – 8 by 24 feet (photo taken with permission). All of the paintings were beyond description.

I promise that I received no payment for these free advertisements! I just want to share them with you!

I would love to hear how you have immersed yourself this winter. Maybe I can try out some of your ideas, and you can try out mine.

Until next time … from me and one of my new friends … bye for now!


Leslie Greene says:

GREAT post, Deb!!! I have never seen either a squid or an octopus in the wild. My niece lives in Hawaii, and when they first moved there, she and the kids loved finding octopuses in tidepools! She and I are both cephalopod junkies!!!

Nancy Cyr says:

As always, Deb – amusing, informative and relatable! Wonderful photography.
Thanks for the inspiring post.

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