Friday, March 26, 2010

Kerm's Sea-Monkeys®

My older son received a Sea-Monkeys® kit for Christmas. Unbeknowst to me, he opened the package. After pouring in half of the recommended amount of water into the tank, he added the water purifier, eggs, and double the suggested amount of dried food. Nothing happened.

When I found the little tank, it was a murky green mess. I comforted Kerm and told him that we could contact the company and try again. I intended to dump out the water and clean out the tank. But, as it sometimes happens with busy moms, I promptly forgot all about it ... until a week later, when Kerm came running in to find me.

"Mommy! They hatched!"

Yes, we have a tank of Sea-Monkeys® living at our house. I think we might be on our second generation, since we have some large ones (and a couple that appear "stuck together"!) and some very teeny tiny dots that look like swimming periods.

What are they? Sea-Monkeys® are a modified species of brine shrimp designed to grow and thrive in the home. This species undergoes crytobiosis, which can be defined as a "reversibly suspended metabolic state." In short, their eggs are nearly indestructible. At this stage in their life cycle, they can survive for long periods of time without water or food.

I have mixed feelings about engineering animals for human use, particularly as novelty items. But I have to admit that, so far, I like the Sea-Monkeys®. These little guys are easy to "grow" and appear to be robust. After all, ours easily tolerated the odd conditions that Kerm threw at them.

I hope that our tank thrives for a long time. In fact, the Sea-Monkeys® website claims that a colony like ours might live for up to two years!

Photo credit: Mama Joules (Note how small they are -- that's my thumb in the bottom of the picture. The critter that you can see looks bigger than it really is because it was swimming very quickly when I took the photo.)

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