School #3


This photograph of a school of moon jellies (Aurelia Labiata) was taken at the Monterey Aquarium a couple of years ago.  The transparent jellies were fascinating, but what really struck me about the whole day at the aquarium was Kemper’s wonder at each new thing he saw.  I’ve spoke about my renewed fascination with nature in many earlier posts, but it is seeing his attitude towards the same that really excites me.

I took a number of pictures of the jellyfish with him by my side, but the most enjoyment I had was watching him follow the jellyfish in the huge tanks.  It was obvious that he would fixate on one and try to follow it amongst the school, and then he would just stand back a bit and watch the school as a whole.  He didn’t say anything, and he certainly didn’t have to.  I recognized the look in his eyes and appreciated his wonder, because I had felt it before.  In fact, I was feeling it once more, but this time through his eyes.

I cammot explain what it is to experience something through your child’s eyes.  I felt deeply grateful that you are able to provide him with the experience and to see him enjoying life.   I don’t know of the word in the English language to describe that sense of fulfillment, peace, satisfaction, and pleasure that comes from the enjoyment of something so pure and simple as watching a school of jellyfish float around an aquarium.  Whatever it is, when I see his huge brown eyes widen and light up, I know that feeling firsthand.

Jellyfish #4

SSA Photography (230 of 400)

This photo of a Moon Jellyfish (Aurelia Labiata) was taken on a past trip to the Monterrey Bay Aquarium just outside of Carmel, California.  The invertebrate room at the aquarium is huge, and must contain thousands of jellyfish of every shape, size, and color.

Instead of long, trailing tentacles, moon jellies have a short, fine fringe (cilia) that sweeps food toward the mucous layer on the edges of the bells. Prey is stored in pouches until the oral arms pick it up and begin to digest it. The coloration of a moon jelly often changes depending on its diet. If the jelly feeds extensively on crustaceans, it turns pink or lavender. An orange tint hints that a jelly’s been feeding on brine shrimp.  Found worldwide in temperate and tropical waters (as well as the Monterrey Bay itself and up and down the California coast), moon jellies feed in quiet bays and harbors. Although moon jellies have a sting, they pose little threat to humans.

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Moon Jelly

SSA Photography (232 of 400)

This photograph of a Aurelia Labiata or Moon Jellyfish was taken at the Monterey Aquarium.  Usually swimming in schools, this jellyfish had separated itself from the rest of its spineless (invertebrate) kin and was floating along just far enough away that I could get a shot of it by itself.  The beautiful wisps of stinger-rich tentacles fluttered in the current of the large tank, and I was mesmerized by them like the little children whose noses were plastered against the thick glass.  Kemper, who was three at the time, was enraptured by the sheer number of jellyfish that effortlessly floated by, and we had to explain that though beautiful, they were dangerous.  I could tell that he did not fully grasp Jeffers’ line, “Beauty is not always lovely.”  But when understanding washed over him, I was momentarily saddened that this lesson had to be learned at such a young age.  Soon, however, he was lost again in the schools of jellyfish not, perhaps, to give another thought to the lesson for a long time to come.

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