A palace untouched

December 2002 photo of sea anemones from the Monterey Aquarium

This December 2002 photo of sea anemones from the Monterey Aquarium
is one of the first digital photos I ever took.

“A palace untouched by human hand, with its gardens of rock and water where living creatures play the part of flowers…” Philippe Diole

Reading descriptions of the form and function of the sea anemone brings to mind horror movies or frightful science fiction.  “Venom-filled tentacles…harpoon-like filament…paralyzing neurotoxin…helpless prey.” Really?  But look how beautiful they are.  Which somehow makes them even more eerie.

I prefer to think of them in the far more appealing terms used by Diole. These creatures certainly do appear to play the undersea part of the flowers for which they were named, and I’m thankful to be able to see them in all their colorful glory…through the thick glass of an aquarium tank.  Diole and his colleague, Jacques-Yves Cousteau, have given us a front row seat to some of the most amazing phenomena of nature, sans discomfort, expense or danger on our part.

Every day we benefit from the daring and diligence of bold explorers and the conscientious curators of their discoveries.  I hope you will make time soon to browse through a big colorful book, or maybe even visit a museum, to enjoy the wonders of environments far different from the ones with which you’re familiar.


  1. I used to dive many years ago. I loved looking at all the underwater plants and animals and would always get so excited if I saw something rare or beautiful.

    • I am fascinated by the idea of diving, but also terrified! Something about being so far underwater scares me. I do like snorkeling although I’ve hardly done any. But I’m glad others are able to bring back photos for me to enjoy. Thanks for visiting here! Tell Max and Jez I said hello!

  2. Yes, they are lovely, in spite of the scary stories about them.
    With exactly one month left for our vacation I keep on adding activities to my to-do list and your posts really inspire and help me in that.
    Hope your dear one is feeling better now.

    • Hi Bindu, thanks for being here and for your kind wishes. Slowly but surely Jeff seems to be improving. I hope you will find some time to blog about your vacation, and post some of your lovely photographs!

  3. Eric

    Diole? I thought Cousteau’s houseboy was Kato. I’d love it when he’d be hidden, and upon the Inspector’s entry would jump out with a scream, and a tumbling Kung Fu/Three Stooges fight would ensue. I’ll have to go back, and look for the colorful under-water photography. (I must have been too busy laughing to have caught it the first time.)

    • Eric, that’s the sort of blunder that Clouseau himself would make. I started to answer by saying “you’re confused; Kato was O. J. Simpson’s houseboy!” πŸ™‚

  4. Karippelil Mathew

    Thanks Julia for sharing with us a beautiful piece of nature’s work of art. The clarity and resolution of your photography makes it so wonderful. Thanks for sharing your thoughts too.

    • Thank you, I appreciate the compliment! It’s hard to take photos through glass; no matter how well they come out, the real thing is always more impressive. I’m so glad you like the post; I hope you will visit again!

  5. Sheila

    Julia, I so hope your days continue to be upbeat and that Jeff is strengthening everyday. Oh, how I loved this photograph and post. I’ve always been fascinated that the anemones can be home to the clownfish by offering them shelter and protection from other fish, yet deadly to other species that come close. My saltwater aquarium is home to two clownfish, only. It is simple by many standards but they are so happy in their own little “Salty” world! Can’t imagine where that came from, can you? I’m smiling…. Thank you so much. Sheila

    • Wow that is interesting, Sheila – I didn’t realize that anemones co-exist with clownfish in that way. We have many “salty” blessings to be thankful for! πŸ™‚ I appreciate your visits here and your faithful friendship.

    • Sheila

      Their relationship is described as near perfect symbiosis. There is some very informative info on line! Love Eric’s comment! Sheila

      • Symbiosis is a wonderful thing πŸ™‚ and the world could use more of it, I’m sure. Although sometimes among humans it’s called “codependency.” I guess everything is relative! Thanks so much for being here – hope you have a wonderful week. I’ll email you some details about ours later.

  6. Carolyn

    Terry just walked in the room and said that it was like looking in the Red Sea. He did some diving while we were in Saudi. I have some beautiful coral from there. Under the water , in different places you will find beauty. Your picture is beautiful.

    • Thanks Carolyn. How fun that Terry was able to go diving while he was overseas. I’m sure the ocean probably has as much variety as the land does, so I would think the Red Sea would be different from the Caribbean or Hawaii or other places. I’m so glad you like the photo!

  7. MaryAnn

    Last night, Paul & I were watching fantastic wildlife photography on a series named “North America”. This episode is about the ocean. Such magnificent power & beauty! It showed the largest jellyfish in the world, called “Lion’s Mane”. It is 8 feet across, with tentacles from 10 to 15 feet long .It is king of its surroundings, until it gets too close to sea anemones. Then it is exactly what you stated about a horror movie. “It was dinner for 100 hungry mouths of sea anemones”, said narrator Tom Selleck.
    Again, I say: I love your view through your camera & words!
    Love to my Dentons!

    • WOW, how fascinating that even a huge “sea monster” could fall to those beautiful deadly little creatures. Thanks for sharing that! I am so happy to be visiting with you via this blog – almost like the good old days in California (which I still miss)!

  8. Thank goodness for the voyagers who at sometimes great peril to themselves, boldly go where no man has gone before (It all comes back around to Star Trek in my world, ha). Honestly though, I can’t get enough of those Arctic expeditions of the last century and also watched a multi-evening Australian production on James Cook which was SO interesting. The last bastion of exploration on Earth is the sea and I’m sure there’s so much down there we’ve yet to discover. Those are really pretty too.

    • Sometime when I have the time I want to read all those books on the polar explorers such as Shackleton and the Endurance story. Or North to the Orient by Anne Morrow Lindbergh (I think I actually have that book someplace). It is kind of cool that humans never seem to run out of frontiers. I think that’s why Star Trek appeals to so many people.


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