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.

This post was originally published seven years ago today. The original post, comments and photo are linked, along with two other related posts, below. These links to related posts, and their thumbnail photos, do not appear in the blog feed; they are only visible when viewing the individual posts by clicking on each one. I have no idea why, nor do I know how they choose the related posts. That’s just the way WordPress does things.


  1. Good morning, Julia!
    I remember as a child, leafing through National Geographic issues. I’ve always loved the photography and had my favorites and “not favorites”. I remember there were certain pages that I would turn very carefully to make sure I didn’t touch the amazingly icky creature on the next page! Spiders, insects, and worm-like creatures were just the scariest, but some underseas animals were just as frightening. I specifically remember a photo of a scallop (may have been after I was a child, but still a while back) that was positively alarming and simultaneously irresistible.
    The words “terribly beautiful” could be reserved for such things!

    • My favorite part of the National Geographics were the maps. I’ve always had a fascination with maps, and the ones that came with those magazines were so exotic. I wish I had saved them to do crafts with. I don’t recall seeing anything really terrifying in them but I do know that very, very little of it was familiar to me at all. Other continents, other cultures, other planets…WOW, definitely mind-expanding.

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