Famous blogger crayfish Stubb found dead in tank

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A group of hominoid scientists arrived in the morning to find the curled, lifeless body of "Second Mate Stubb", the famed crayfish who wrote a popular blog.  Stubb was found in his favorite coffee mug, where he spent a good deal of his time finding inspiration for his writings.

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Stubb, a swamp crayfish from downeastern Maine, arrived in the Seascape Modeling Lab less than a year ago.  He commonly wrote about his past as a wild, invasive species, and about his keen observations on the human species.  He was beloved throughout the state of Maine, and the world, with faithful readers on many continents.

The populace was shocked and saddened by the tragedy.  "It's a real shock," remarked one fan.  "I'm very sad."

Cause of death is unknown.  Stubb gave no indications of poor condition prior to his death.  Some speculate that the unusually high temperatures in the building, due to a heating system malfunction, may have overheated his tank.  With air temperatures near 90 degrees, his small tank may have heated beyond tolerable levels.

Others, however, suspect foul play.  The details of Stubb's will have yet to be released, but there is speculation that there might be some provocative material there.  Details are expected to emerge slowly.

We become too accustomed, it sometimes seems, to creatures of our own size.  They are the norm to us.  I gaze up at the larger creatures of this world with a sense of awe regarding their bizarre and grotesque forms and behaviors.  They are like lumbering alien monsters.  Yet today I have learned that we are surrounded by both the large and the small, in terms of grotesqueness.

I had change to observe with my compound eyes some disturbing images of my cohabitants.  A swab of algae, magnified many times over, revealed that I share this tank with myriads of microscopic creatures.  They swim to and fro, eat, defecate, and reproduce in the very water that I breathe!

A wise reader would find a secure seat before perusing these next images.  The first shows a squirming worm-like critter lashing and writhing around.  Further inspection showed scores of these primitive critters, squirming through blobs of algae.  The other images show organisms with which I am unfamiliar.  I pray that they inflict no poison upon me!

Ah, the curse of the microscope, and the world of horrors it reveals to us.  D*#@ you, Leeuwenhoek!
I
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The worm is wriggling around in the upper left.

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I know not what it is.

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Algae?  A biologist I am not.
When confronting a grave injustice, it often benefits one to make tactical use of the communication media available to humans.  The prior entry was successful in drawing due attention to my unacceptable living conditions.  Now that my tank has been polished to a fine sparkle, my water replenished, and my appetite quenched, I am free to resume my musings.

Over the past six months, I have made painstakingly detailed observations of the homo sapiens species--truly a privilege to have this unique experience.  When one begins to come accustomed to the patterns and behaviors--to understand the language, so to speak, of the hominids--one observes in these beasts nearly all of the commonplace and fundamental behaviors that we are familiar with in our own species.  By way of example, I quite often observe certain specimens to hoard food for later devouring, or to curl up in nooks and sit virtually motionless for hours at a time.

One could fill an entire volume with descriptions of human behavior--perhaps two entire volumes, if one were verbose.  Truly and categorically a fascinating beast.  Yet communicating the complexity of these behaviors is not always simple.  Over the past few weeks, I've worked out a systematic diagramming language that I believe can succinctly, intuitively, and accurately describe all of the behaviors that I observe.  I have included one such diagram as a test case (figure 1, below).  I will await reader feedback, and if necessary, hone the diagrams as appropriate.

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Figure 1.  The scientific method diagrammed

I have come under harsh criticism of late due to a perceived neglect of my narrative obligations.  Yet it is this loyal decapod who has been neglected.  Over the preceding few weeks, my happy nychthemeral rhythms have disintegrated and been swapped out for an increasingly dismal monotony of darkness and hunger.

What has induced this aphotic, famished state?  Imagine, dear reader, that the box you call home, that you return to for comfort, sanctuary, and shelter, that provides the solace conducive to composing your life's work-- imagine that this home has become a prison.  The days pass in uniform hopelessness, as neither light nor food are delivered.  As my chelipeds grope haplessly and in vain for a remnant scrap, the walls becloud with filth and the water level drops.

Fate sometimes thrusts us into such dire conditions--fate, with its inexplicable and arbitrary whims, wiping out the most carefully laid plans.  Yet Fate is not the name of the culprit.  Nay, 'tis my keepers who have condemned me.  Once upon a time they bore sustenance and daily luminescence.  Now, I fear, they have abandoned me to obscurity.  It is with my remaining strength that I compose this letter, and also finalize the details of my scheme for improbable escape.

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Slime and goo caked on the walls!
The particulars of my capture in those wild waters of eastern Maine elude my memory altogether.  From dreams and from the tales of others, I have, in my modest brain, a sort of piecemeal mishmash of what might have taken place.  Late at night, in the cool waters below, my mind spins and tumbles with visions of medieval iron-spiked crayfish traps and a horrifying loss of innocence.  Only the crayfisher knows what really happened.

What I do remember is a healthy bit of frantic clawing, and then splashing into the confines of a tank.  Then turbulence.  Then bubbles.  Then floating particulates.  When the water cleared, I gazed through the glass and saw her...Princess.

She was not of my species, and she was mysterious.  Her body language was alien to me, yet familiar in some intangible manner.  Perhaps in the wild she would have been my competitor or foe, but here, through the two panes of glass, her visage spoke to me with a kind of intrigue--a kind of allure.

Only rarely could I catch sight of her, as she would only move about when she believed herself to be unobserved.  I have included a single apt photograph from our time in the same laboratory.  Such glimpses were the very inspiration that guided me through those first weeks of captivity--yet they would be my undoing, for there was another who eyed her as I did, and he and I were destined to meet.

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An enticing glimpse of Princess.
Once again, I have tarried in complacency.  A twennight has elapsed between the present and previous compositions, and yet each time I reach for my quill and parchment, I find myself without words.  Days pass in uniformity, and recollections of my former adventures recede into the pea soup fog of memory.

Since my home makeover, little has transpired.  I take pleasure in my renovated surroundings, and I continue to accumulate biomass in preparation for my next molt.  I even had the joy of sampling a bit of scallop yesterweek, which I nearly inhaled, with great relish.  Other than that small highlight, there is naught to report.

These uneventful times provide ample opportunity to compose the second chapter of my life history.  Unfortunately, the repetitive diel rhythms--and indeed the very lack of eventfulness--continue to obscure my memories.  My only hope is that the changing of the seasons will arouse my memory.  We invasive crayfish do, after all, possess superior memories to the native species (Hazlett et al. 2002).

In the mean time, I would like to thank my dear readers, who, I have recently learned, hail from hither and yon.  In addition to readership throughout my home state of Maine, there are readers from 23 states and nine countries!  Ah, if I could only visit the far off lands of South Korea or Thailand--Italy or Sweeden--and converse with those oganisms who read my tales.  Yet I find comfort in the knowledge that my words reach these distant lands--and I find new motivation to write.

There always seems to be some variation of agitation and commotion keeping me from my Coleridge.  If it isn't food floating just out of claw's reach in the upper waters of my tank, it's the Oscars.  I only desire a moments respite for literature, and to hone the text of my second chapter--the rending tale of my capture from the wild Maine woods--but alas, the commotion and diversion of civilization will not allow me to my task.

I was abruptly awakened yestermorn to a construction crew, draining the water from my abode with the crudest, most obtrusive technology.  I was informed, in my bleary, uncaffeinated condition, that my tank had been selected for the crayfish edition of "Home makeover."  Indeed!  The remainder of the day, and much of the next, was spent assisting the crew in the tedious (but admittedly overdue) chore of renovating the interior of my living space.

Dear reader, you surely can comprehend my annoyance at first--'twas like an albatross about the neck.  However, if I am to be entirely forthcoming, I cannot be all too critical of the process.  The attached video, as seen on multiple major crayfish networks, does not do it justice.  Although I cannot claim the requisite background to provide fair critique to the genre of Reality Television, nevertheless, I do detect a hint of amateurism.  Feeble, laughable amateurism.  Watch the video if you must, but let my words give a purer account of my new home.

The arrangement is a masterful symphony of Pythagorean geometry and feng shui.  In the fore, a obelisk of metamorphic phyllite and luminous orange quartzite, evoking the very geological power than formed Maine's coast.  Set in the background, a half-shell reminiscent of the Birth of Venus.  Much of my original decor has been incorporated into the new layout, providing a temporal continuity--and yet, with all the calculated precision of a designer, the spirit of wilderness and nature has been preserved.

Yes, dear reader, as I survey these new grounds, I foresee a bursting of the dam that restrains inspiration.  Now I will write.  No longer will I tarry in distraction and day-to-day inanities.  I envision the ensuing chapters of my life story rushing forth in a series of captivating blog entries.

(Note: If the video appears choppy, try replaying it.)

'twas early eve in Portland town;
I set out for a meal;
My taste buds craved a snack profound,
With je ne sais quoi appeal;

I wandered down to Portland Pie,
But all they had was flat,
And nothing seemed to catch my eye
At Gritty's or Duckfat;

The chowder served down at Dimillos
Gave me a sinking heart;
Alas the fare at Granny's Burritos
Would only make me fart;

Green eggs and ham are not my dish,
As seen at Becky's Diner;
If I could only have my wish,
I'd eat a golden shiner.

Thus I wandered home, an empty soul,
With not a friend to thank,
When lo! what did mine eyes behold:
Golden shiner ... a-floating in my tank!

(Note: If the video appears choppy, try replaying it.)

Oscar night!

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I'd just like to take a moment to humbly thank everyone who made my Oscar possible.  For those who haven't heard, Sunday night I took home the award for best screen adaptation by a crustacean.  That is, as my claw has grown back, it has adapted so that I can type this blog onto your screen.  I couldn't have achieved this adaptation without the help of everyone here in the lab.

Naturally, there are a lot of organisms to thank.  Foremost, cyanobacteria, for all of the nitrogen fixation that they do, day in and day out; polar bears, for their work in signaling climate change to humans; honey bees--though they're terrestrial--for the critical role they play in pollination.  I'd also like to thank Clint Eastwood.

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Me looking dapper.

Delays and rivals

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Please excuse the lengthy interlude that has elapsed since my last correspondence.  I have only just begun the inspiring tale of my life, and already am I wrought with interruptions and annoyances.

If you would, please observe the included video.  Note how inconveniently placed are my food particles!  What fun is there in captivity if one cannot obtain food without having to forage and scrape for it?  This is supposed to be the easy life.  I'm up there clawing at the surface all day for a scrap, and thus and therefore have I scarcely a moment to sit and write, and to entertain my faithful readers.

Naturally I would thank the cameraman for catching this humiliating injustice on video, and for exposing it to the world.  Alas!  He is the very same who has perpetrated this crime upon me!

While I have, as you can plainly see, become quite adept at collecting my food in this most difficult manner, I must begin to ponder a means of subversion.  This action will not stand.  I will endeavor to continue my blog entries, so as not to disappoint my dutiful fans.  Yet mark my words.  All the while I shall be planning my escape.

(Note: If the video appears choppy, try replaying it.)

You can send comments to my keeper, Nick Record. He'll pass them on to me.
Stubb
NOTICE!

If you have found other crayfish like me in Maine, or have questions about Maine crayfish, please contact Karen Wilson at the University of Southern Maine.

Recent Comments

  • Second Mate Stubb: I suddenly feel very old fashioned ... for a crayfish! read more
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