DNERR always offers something unexpected, and recently, one needed only to look overhead to see it. In the lab at the St. Jones Reserve, dual clotheslines were strung with, no, not freshly laundered lab jackets or drip-drying dip-nets, but damp sheets of colorfully daubed paper. The sheets overflowed onto many of the nearby horizontal surfaces.
Though I had already experienced Gyotaku, the Japanese art technique known as fish printing, this guest-blogger did not realize DNERR offers different fish-printing opportunities for the smaller fry among us. The large, rubber fish used by teens and adults can be too much for little hands, I was told, and hence these smaller fish-print stamps.
I eyed the array of creatures — who, in turn, looked right back at me — and found the smiling jellyfish irresistible for its quirky, almost paradoxical combination of hidden danger and overt insouciance.
Headlines in late 2017** announced that a University of Delaware professor, along with a UD grad who’s a researcher at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History, discovered that a type of jellyfish in our region that has long been thought a single species is in fact two: the U.S. Atlantic Sea Nettle (Chrysaora quinquecirrha) and the Atlantic Bay Nettle (Chrysaora chesapeakei). The moral of that story? Even for the experts, there is always more to learn about this big world around us.
The moral of this story? Whether one species or two, those jellies would not take kindly to being dipped in paint and then pressed onto blank art‑paper; so the child-friendly stamps are a great way for kids to interact with these particular marine denizens without incurring “The Wrath of the Chrysaora,” a type of 3-D, sensory, theatrical experience no one wants to have — the jellies included.
** For more information:
Text and photos by M.L. Christmas
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M.L. Christmas, MSM, is a freelance writer/editor living in the Dover area. She is a longtime member of Delaware Press Association and the National Federation of Press Women.