Tag Archives: Caribbean poetry

Blacktip Island Nudibranchs Write Limericks In The Sand

nudibranch writing

Scuba divers discovered a purple-line sea goddess nudibranch finishing a line of poetry Wednesday afternoon during a shore dive on Blacktip Island’s Sailfish Reef. (photo courtesy of Steve Childs)

Blacktip Island scuba divers on an afternoon shore dive Wednesday discovered signs the island’s sea goddess nudibranchs may spell words in the sand with their slime trails.

“There was a film of algae on the sand, the light was just right and I could make out a cursive ‘N,’” Emma Dorris said. “I looked closer and there was ‘Nantucket’ spelled out in a flowing, 19th Century script. And at the end of the ‘t’ there was a tiny yellow-and-purple sea slug.

“You could see traces of other words, but divers had kicked too much sand to read them,” Dorris said. “Nudibranchs could be doing this all over the place but no one ever noticed, what with divers and storms stirring up the sand. But the weather’s been good and the sand was undisturbed.”

Longtime local divers were not surprised.

“There’s been stories for years of divers seeing words on the sand,” Rusty Goby said. “‘Pruitt’ and ‘trucker,’ most often. We always passed that off, but now it all makes sense. Near as we can tell, those little suckers get of on writing bawdy limericks.”

The scientific community said more study is needed.

“Assuming these slugs do leave words in their wake, is it something they do by happenstance or is it a conscious act?” Tiperon University-Blacktip marine biology professor Ernesto Mojarra said. “Is it only one species? Do they all slime in the same script? Indications are the gold-line sea goddesses have the best penmanship, while the tasseled nudis’ slime is damn-near illegible, but it’s early yet.

“We’re building big Plexiglas cubes to lower over nudibranchs to protect the sand writing from surge and current and divers,” Mojarra said. “And we have teams scouring the reef looking for all species of nudibranchs. That’s the real hard work.”

Some on the island scoffed at the idea of sea slugs writing poetry.

“Limericks? Not haiku or Italian sonnets?” said Chrissy Graysby. “And they only write in English? This is another crop-circle hoax.

“Ernie and his gang’re piling on as an excuse to get grant money,” Graysby added. “And free diving under the guise of ‘research.’”

Mojarra was unfazed by the criticism.

“This could be the cross-discipline breakthrough of our generation,” he said. “The engineering department worked up some underwater blacklights that really make the letters pop.

“We’re also teaming up with the English department to study how and why these slugs acquired their literary preferences,” Mojarra said. “They’ve done studies that indicate lettuce sea slugs compulsively slime-write the text of T.S. Eliot’s ‘The Wasteland.’ Or as much of it as they can before something eats them.”


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Misprint Sparks Mayhem at Blacktip Island Poetry Slam


Blacktip Island Poetry Slam winner Reg Gurnard’s West Indian whistling ducks prepare to take the stage Thursday afternoon on the small Caribbean island. (photo by Charles J. Sharp)


Five Blacktip Island residents were hospitalized and an estimated 14 chickens and four ducks were injured Thursday after flyers for the Heritage Society’s annual Poetry Slam were incorrectly printed as “Poultry Slam.”

“We called the order in to the print shop, same as ever, and I clearly said ‘poetry,’” Heritage Society president Doris Blenny said. “Clete Horn read the text back to me, but he was slurring his words at the time and I guess we both misunderstood.

“The first sign of trouble was when twenty-plus people showed up at the Heritage House with poems in hand and birds under their arms,” Blenny said.

“The announcement said ‘poultry,’” island poet Alison Diesel said. “It seemed odd, but it is Blacktip Island, after all. I practiced for days – thawed Cornish hens, mostly – and wrote two sonnets set to the same beat. Rhyming with a live hen, though, in front of an audience, it’s harder than you’d think.”

Organizers proceeded with the event as advertised, but the performances were halted by animal rights protestors.

“It was crazy enough, with our local bards spouting verse and waving their chickens,” the Heritage Society’s Blenny said. “Then the PETA people stormed the stage and the feathers really flew.”

“Abusing birds so flagrantly, we had to cry foul,” local People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals president Harry Pickett said. “Sure, some of our folks got a bit out of hand, but really, thwacking chickens like that, those so-called artistes deserved a sock in the puss.”

Thirteen participants were charged with animal cruelty. Eight protestors were charged with battery. Several poets also were disqualified due to their over-reliance on duck-related rhyme schemes.

“This is a family event, after all,” Blenny said.

A handful of contestants dodged legal trouble by opting for figurative interpretations of the event’s theme.

“I slammed my Rhode Island Red rooster but good,” contestant Led Waite said. “Insulted him every which way, in rhyme royal, no less. I should’ve won some sort of prize.”

Other finalists substituted fried chicken and roast duck for living poultry. The winner used a gentler approach, with live birds.

“I trained each of my West Indian whistling ducks to quack a different note when I smacked them on the head,” Slam champion Reg Gurnard said. “It made for excellent counterpoint, me rapping and them quacking. And none of them the worse for wear.”


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