Backyard aquarium

Henry has been learning about the ocean in school, and he is completely running with it, so to speak. He has been drawing and cutting out dozens of different ocean creatures, and telling us facts about each one. He drew a complex chart of the life cycle of a coral colony and brought it to school to teach his classmates, then a few days later made a life-size drawing of a nurse shark to show them (his teacher said, “He’s like my assistant teacher!”).

He spent a good deal of time wrangling the neighborhood posse into taping his creatures onto the back fence, so we’d have our own outdoor aquarium (that’s the nurse shark on the right in the top photo).

One thing I love about kid obsessions is when you learn a whole bunch of new stuff yourself. Like Dave and I were surprised to learn that the starfish (or sea star, depending on how itchy you are about the “fish” verity in your terminology) are the most insane creature on the face of the earth, just about. Some alarming starfish facts:

  • Starfish have eyes at the end of each arm. They can’t see with these eyes, though. (How that makes them eyes, I have no idea.)
  • A starfish can eat kind of large sea life, like crabs. It just suctions on and doesn’t let go, and pretty soon the crab is eaten.
  • If a starfish is disturbed, it may throw off an arm. A new arm will regenerate in about a year. And a new starfish will generate from the broken-off arm.
  • When eating something such as a clam, the starfish opens the clam shell a tiny bit, and then pushes its stomach outside of its body and into the clam shell. And then digests the clam while its stomach is still outside its body.

(All crazy starfish facts from a nicely illustrated book called Where the Waves Break: Life at the Edge of the Sea by Anita Malnig.)

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