My favorite sea story involves one of my favorite tidal animals.
Tony and Patty Jean were living on a boat, a trawler, with their two young children (their baby only four months old) when we visited them. They were just finishing their first season of fishing and up to their young ears in debt on the boat.
Patty Jean told us how in getting onto the boat one day she knocked out one of the lenses of her glasses. Before she could grab it, it flipped over the edge of the boat and into the bay.
“We couldn’t afford new glasses,” said Tony, “so the next day I hired a good local diver at $20/hour to go down and look for it.” As the diver descended down into the water, he had to be careful not to touch the bottom because the silt he stirred up would cloud the water. He didn’t find anything directly below the spot where the lens had gone into the water, so he worked his way down to the other end of the boat, picked up a sea star, and there was the clam-shaped lens, firmly attached to its underside. They managed to work the lens loose and save the sea star any more frustration over trying to find the juicy innards.
Sometimes when we neighbors are low on local sea stories, we wander to other locations. Sally, who lives a few houses away, told me some years ago that she had heard a news story about fishermen off the coast of India who reported catching a sea monster with a long trunk-like appendage. A specialist at the University of Washington who was interviewed for the story recalled a similar sea monster report off the coast of Ireland some years earlier. It turned out that a ship had been transporting elephants when one of the beasts had died. They gave it what was probably a pretty simple burial at sea. A fisherman had caught the partially decomposed elephant. Although the UW specialist didn’t rule out all kinds of unknown sea creatures, he suggested this might explain the sea monster off the Indian coast.