Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Thoughtful Thursday: Speed


[Click play for video, wait for the audio, including the sound of snail footsteps. . . (try the web view if it doesn't show on your device.)]

Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.

― Lao Tzu

Monday, April 19, 2021

Glass and Snow

[Snowy Egret with "glass" eel, Forsythe NWR, NJ April, 2021. The red facial skin is a trait of high breeding plumage for the egret, but the eel is the real story. Click to enlarge.]

Egrets are gorgeous, but the silver shimmer in this Snowy Egret's bill is another miracle of nature.

Egrets eat fish, and American eels are fish, but what a fish they are. Eels flip the famous anadromous lifestyle of salmon on its head. They are catadromous, growing up in freshwater and returning to the sea to spawn. This glass ribbon hatched from egg to a larvae in the Sargasso Sea. Now where the hek is that? I'll save you the trouble:


So there it began as an egg in this confluence of oceanic currents, with maybe 4 million others from the same mom eel slightly less than a year ago (this makes my estimate of the total number of eel eggs laid each year as exactly one zillion). Then it hatched into a larvae and free-floated to the Jersey shore. Most of its brothers and sisters got themselves eaten, but this one metamorphosed into its glassy self and was looking forward to several years of growing up somewhere upstream of the west pool outfall at Forsythe NWR, where it's already amazing journey ended in the egret's bill. Had it survived, it would have grown to maybe 30" in freshwater before it returned the Atlantic's Sargasso to continue  the cycle.