# Tuesday, 06 February 2007

My daughter the horseshoe crab

Some time ago, we went to an aquarium, one of these huge ones with loads of fascinating aquatic creatures. Despite the magnificent spectacle of the main tank (which was the size of several olympic swimming pools), my personal favourites were the horseshoe crabs...

Horseshoe crabs

I have always had a fascination for stupid creatures. Penguins have long been a favourite of mine. They stand around on ice floes, not sure what to do. One of them will suddenly decide to go for a swim and, before you know it, ten thousand penguins are having a swim. They enjoy this for a while and then, one of them decides to get out. Before you know it, ten thousand penguins are back on the ice floe wondering what to do. One of them will suddenly decide to go for a swim and, ... well, you get the idea.

Horseshoe crabs have their own peculiar oddity. As you can see from the picture above, they have a domed shell that comes down to the ground/sand/floor/whatever all around. Underneath, they have really little legs.

Now the problem they have is that they are ideally designed for operation the right way up. Flip one over and it doesn't know what to do. It just lies on its back waving its little legs frantically until one of several things happens...

  • A surge of water comes along and turns it back on its front again. This is somewhat fortuitous and cannot be relied upon as an option. However, it is better than...
  • Other horseshoe crabs come along and run all over the upturned one. This causes it to get all upset and wave its little legs even more. At first, you feel sorry for the poor little fellow (at least, we assume it's a fellow for want of an easy way to determine gender), but after a while it's hard not to laugh. They look very comical like that. It's probably not the least bit comical for the horseshoe crab, but maybe I have a mean streak. Either way, this is better than the final option...
  • A passing predator spots the helpless and agitated upturned horseshoe crab and decides it's time for a spot of lunch. One serving of horseshoe crab a la carte later, and that's the end of that.

Now, anyone with enough spare time on their hands to have read this far might be wondering why on earth I bothered writing about this, and (if they had read the title of this entry) what this has to do with my daughter. Read on dear reader, for your patience shall be rewarded (although only slightly).

Simcha is now ten months old. This is a lovely age, full of fat tummies and giggles. She is crawling around the place at a fair speed now, but still has one major handicap in her movment. Unlike most babies, she still hasn't worked out how to roll from her back to her front. This means that if she ends up on her back, which is not infrequent, she does a remarkably close impression of an upturned horseshoe crab! Ah, so that's what all this drivel was about!

Once on her back, she has pretty much the same options as the horseshoe crab...

  • As surges of water are not so common in our house (B"H), the first option can be replaced by a surge of sibling who sweeps her up into their arms and smothers her in kisses with many a cry of "You're so sweet!"
  • Other children come along and crawl/roll/walk over her. This is usually done in a friendly and non-painful way, but does nothing to help the now squeaking Simcha get back on her front.
  • A passing older sibling spots her and decides it's time for a tickle. At this point, she is helpless and easy prey for the PSG ticklers, who will tickle away until they have had their fill.

Oh well, at least she survives to crawl away, unlike the hapless horseshoe crab. For some great pictures of these creatures, you can visit a web site all about them. Just don't tell them we sent you there!

By the way, those who are squeamish might like to know that horseshoe crabs aren't actually crabs at all. They are actually more closely related to spiders and scorpions, so that's OK :-D

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