Killer Algae... and other things that occur to me in my recliner

recliner chairNot that there's killer algae in my recliner. No, I watched a program on the Science Channel from the safety of my recliner entitled Killer Algae -- about a very real problem in the Mediterranean Sea.

Skip ahead if you don't want me to spoil the ending for you, but it seems that a species of marine algae first developed in a German zoo and used in private home aquariums throughout the world has gotten loose into the Mediterranean where it threatens to overwhelm all indigenous species. The first outbreaks were off the coast of France and Monaco.

Many of these programs are quite interesting... but paced so ponderously that one can doze off for several minutes at a time and not miss a thing. This is exactly what I was doing the other night while watching... and strange things started happening in my head.

It was probably triggered in part because most of the interviews were in French, with a translation layered over. Of course the fish will starve rather than eat this algae -- they're snobby French fish! I began expecting a younger, long-haired Eric Idle to push his way into the screen and take the program off in ("ahem") a completely different direction. Maybe to talk about other German laboratory experiments to make other angry algae or military mosses that will conquer the world!multiblade razor

Then I was starting to remember the Python sketch on mollusks... with door-to-door documentarian John Cleese hoking up his narration on the sex life of gastropods in order to hold the interest of his customers... and what should I notice when I next awoke but the discovery of a natural predator for caulerpa taxifolia, to wit, elysia subornata, as "a species of small sea slug, a marine opisthobranch gastropod mollusk in the family Placobranchidae. This sea slug resembles a nudibranch, but it is not closely related to that order of gastropods, instead it is a sacoglossan."

Tell me you're not hearing this in John Cleese's voice now, with a particularly sneering reference to "nudibranch."

Long Suffering Spouse was half-watching the program, too, grading papers all the while. She must have dozed too, though, because the program was being rerun and we were just at the part where the sea urchins exposed to the caulerpa taxifolia in a lab and turned upside down by French scientists wouldn't turn back over for 15, 20, even 30 minutes, willing to starve to death rather than eat inferior non-French algae.

Sorry, now I'm starting to write in Eric Idle. Anyway, Long Suffering Spouse made me turn off the TV and go to bed. Which was almost certainly just as well.

Curmudgeon is a self-described dinosaur -- an Ozzie and Harriet person living in an Ozzy and Sharon world. And sometimes it confuses the heck out of him. He writes a very amusing blog at Second Effort.

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