Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Go with the flow

Ventry Harbor is swimming with jellyfish.

And watch out as you walk the beach, where the tide has stranded hundreds of jellies. Mostly Aurelia aurita, the common jelly of Irish waters, but also flotillas of compass jellyfish, Chrysaora hysoscella, as big as dinner plates with their two-score tentacles and four trailing frilly mouth arms.

Their bodies are 99 percent water; they have fewer non-aqueous ingredients than lemonade. But they've been around for 700 million years. Armored trilobites, thunder-footed dinosaurs, and saber-toothed tigers have come and gone; the watery jellyfish endure. They have outlasted animals with bulk and brains. Their strategy for survival has been spectacularly successful: Keep it simple, go with the flow.

Eat and drift, drift and eat -- the original hobo existence. And, if you live in the sea, transparency is more or less equivalent to invisibility: another survival secret of the hobo.