After yesterday’s post about indigo animals, I thought I’d write about my favorite violet one.

Meet Janthina, the violet sea snail. It lives at the surface of the ocean, where it preys on jellyfish and hydrozoans, particularly Velella, the By-The-Wind Sailor. Unlike Velella, which rides the surface of the waves from above, Janthina rides the surface from below, on a raft of bubbles encased in tough chitin, like Huckleberry Finn through the looking-glass.

For the violet sea snail, up is down. The sky is its floor. Its prey lives underground, in the air. Floating along at the mercy of the current and the storms, it has no concept of terra firma, yet is rooted to a surface in all weather. That surface is the same we row our boats in, yet opposite. When you need some perspective – emotional or scientific – think of the violet sea snail, and you’ll remember that every “in” is an “out” door, every window looks both ways, every floor is a ceiling. And every floor is also your shadow’s floor, and that life walks with you in mirror-image, upside-down in your footsteps.


About quantumbiologist

Christian Drake, AKA The Quantum Biologist, is a naturalist and poet formerly of Albuquerque, NM and currently living deep in the backwoods of the Connecticut Berkshires. He has worked in aquariums and planetariums, national parks and urban forests. When not birding or turning over rocks to find weird bugs, he enjoys rockabilly music, gourmet cooking, playing harmonica and writing dirty haiku. View all posts by quantumbiologist

One response to “Topsy-Turvy

  • Merimee Moffitt

    Very much an essay/poem on Ms. Violet. she is pretty. Xian, have you discovered a new genre? The poessay, espoemy, the poverse?

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