Monday, October 12, 2009


My apologies to everyone for my absence. Your ever-curious Octopus attended an alternative energy conference this weekend, which reminds me. Please scroll down and look for this in the lower right panel: “Join the Conversation - Blog Action Day October 15, 2009 | Climate Change.” I will be posting an article (hopefully) on Thursday, the day of this event.

Octopus will be away next weekend too … attending this:

The annual International Sea-Bean Symposium is one of my favorite events. What is a ”sea-bean,” you ask? These are drift seeds carried by ocean currents that wash upon our shores. Drift seeds drop from trees and vines as far away as the Amazon River basin and beyond. After they enter the waterways, they are carried downstream to the Atlantic and moved by ocean currents until they find our beach. Sea-beans are hard, tough, and buoyant, which helps them survive the long-distance voyage. Finding a sea-bean on the beach brings good luck. Some folks turn them into jewelry and pendants.

This year, the keynote speaker is Dr. Curtis Ebbesmeyer, an oceanographer who studies all things that float in our ocean:

Ebbesmeyer grew increasingly fascinated by sea currents and eddies and began to focus on beaches, specifically on debris deposited there. An epiphany came in May 1990 when a Pacific storm knocked five containers filled with thousands of athletic shoes off a cargo ship. Nearly a year later, the shoes began washing up along the West coast of North America. With the help of a surprisingly large and cooperative fraternity of beachcombers, Ebbesmeyer tracked the progress of the shoes up and down the coast and as far away as Hawaii, producing a groundbreaking study of ocean currents.

Even readers with little interest in ocean science are riveted by epic travels of oceanic trash, entertaining accounts of how floating debris guided Christopher Columbus and the Vikings to safe harbors, horrific stories of men adrift at sea, how flotsam may have triggered the origin of life, and dire warnings about the threat of plastic waste in our oceans.

All in all, a busy week for Octopus who will be canvassing the beach for flotsam and escaped rubber ducks. BTW, welcome home, Captain Fogg.


  1. Well what do you know -- I have oe of those things sitting on my desk here. I found it on the beach years ago and didn't know what it was except that it's obviously organic.

    A dugout canoe turned up on the sand a while back. It floated up here all the way from the Amazon. You never know what will turn up in the Swash Zone -- The Zone is full of surprises as Bill Burroughs used to say.

  2. Octo: The Sea-beans are BEAUTIFUL! Not only would I love one for the "good luck" aspect, but I also make jewelry. Maybe one day I could go on one of these excursions and get my own Sea-beans and have an entire collection! What fun that would be!

    And it sure would beat the heck out of blogging for a little while, eh?

    Thanks for the link, it was a nice diversion!

  3. Wow.

    The storm shall not wake thee, nor sharks overtake thee,
    Asleep in the arms of the slow-swinging seas.

  4. I love the sea beans! This weekend I'll be attending the NC Oyster Festival but I hope your weekend will be warmer and drier than they are predicting for mine.
    If the shiny, pearly mollusks don't mind getting wet, neither do I!
    Have a good time, 8pus.

  5. Rocky, may all your oysters get high and stay dry. Remember, an octopus is a mollusk too (my cousin Sam is quite a clam).

  6. Fascinating, Octo. I've never heard of those things. They look delightful. And so does your weekending.

    BTW, is the guy's name really Ebbesmeyer?

  7. Ebbesmeyer it is. And his wife's name is Flo.

  8. LOL, 8pus! I plan on getting high with the oysters (beer on tap) and then raising my glass to all the 8 legged mollusks I've known before, or I might end up putting it in song. :)

  9. I have sent three messages in bottles, but have yet to receive a single reply. The last one was eight years ago or more.

  10. I found a bottle with a hundred bucks in it - that wasn't yours, was it?

  11. A genie in a bottle joke for the psychologists among us:

    A psychologist was walking along a beach when he kicked a bottle poking up through the sand. Opening it, he was astonished to see a cloud of smoke and a genie smiling at him.

    “For your kindness,” the genie said, “I will grant you one wish!” The psychologist paused, laughed, and replied, “I have always wanted a road from Hawaii to California.”

    The genie grimaced, thought for a few minutes and said, “Listen, I’m sorry, but I can’t do that! Think of all the pilings needed to hold up the highway and how long they’d have to be to reach the bottom of the ocean. Think of all the pavement. That’s too much to ask.”

    “OK,” the psychologist said, not wanting to be unreasonable. “I’m a psychologist. Make me understand my patients. What makes them laugh and cry, why are they temperamental, why are they so difficult to get along with, what do they really want? Basically, teach me to understand what makes them tick!”

    The genie paused, and then sighed, “Do you want two lanes or four?”

  12. LOL! Made my day, Octo!

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