Sea-Monkeys!

Arielle Schecter's picture

Sea-Monkeys can be viewed as a vast commercial expression of eugenics. Their production company’s founder, Harold von Braunhut, was alleged to be a financier of white supremacist groups and himself never denied such claims.[1] The concept of genetic enhancement is one of great scientific interest. From Gregor Mendel to Josef Mengele, humans have been fascinated in their attempts to explore genomic “dominance” and use their subject species to experiment with the creation of a perceived dominant specimen. Sea-Monkeys are clear - well, pinkish and fairly opaque - examples of manipulated genetic artifact, though more in terms of life cycle interruption rather than genetic interference. True, Sea-Monkeys are a special type of sea animal rarely seen in nature. However, the examination of this “live” animal in the context of academic coursework about the study of life is where the true interest of this paper lies.
When Sea-Monkeys were first marketed to the public in 1956, consumers were told to be unafraid if the product were to enter the sewage system (read: flushed down the toilet while still alive) because Sea-Monkeys would not survive outside of their very specific, chemically enhanced environment-in-a-box. While the science behind Sea-Monkey technology largely has been kept a mystery to the public, the idea of suspending in time a creature’s lifespan begs inquiry about the specific natue and definition of life that allows these animals to “come alive” when placed in salted tap water. The official Sea-Monkey website makes some excited claims about this idea:

Sea-Monkeys® are a true miracle of nature. They exist in suspended animation inside their tiny eggs for many years. The instant-life crystals, in which the eggs are enclosed, preserve their viability and help to extend still further their un-hatched life span! Sea-Monkeys are real Time-Travelers asleep in biological time capsules for their strange journey into the future! [2]

One semi-obvious secret should be revealed in the interests of this inquiry: These “instant-life crystals” are actually eggs of the sometimes-asexually reproducing hybrid brine shrimp, or Artemia salina. The U.S. patent for Sea-Monkeys describes the process as “hatching brine shrimp or similar crustaceans in tap water to give the appearance of instantaneous hatching.” [3] This is achieved by placing Sea-Monkey eggs in specific environments that allow the unhatched shrimp to enter cryptobiosis, a reversible state of suspended metabolism in a living form. [4, 5]
Owners of Sea-Monkeys are instructed to release over the course of two days the contents of the Sea-Monkey packaging into a tank of tap water. Day One’s share of the contents, known as the “water purifier” package contains Sea-Monkey eggs in a salty powder. Day Two’s additions, known as the “instant live eggs” package, includes more eggs, epson salts, borax, soda, yeast, and blue dye used to visually enhance the eggs’ hatching. The Sea-Monkeys are fed a powdered mixture of yeast and Spirulina,. The “boost” packages included in Sea-Monkey kits contain a sort of aphrodisiac salt for the purpose of promoting reproduction among the shrimp, which, once hatched, have a “lifespan” of one year. [6]
The idea that shrimp can be scientifically interrupted in their life cycles with the aid of just salt and yeast holds some very interesting promise for a similar idea as manifested in mammals, specifically humans. A famous example in the field of cyryptogenics is Walt Disney, who purportedly had himself frozen before he died so he could one day “come back to life,” presumably when the technology allowed. In a true science fiction future, if scientists were to apply Sea-Monkey science to human eggs, the social problem of unwanted pregnancy could be avoided, as the female would have to wait to inject her eggs with salt before anything alive could come out of them - though as a relevant side note, sperm contain salts. Perhaps we are already living in that science-fiction-or-fact world, and there’s clearly lots of room for monkeying around in it.

[1] Korner, Brendan I., “Not From a Sea. Not Monkeys. Discuss.” published in The New York Times 15 May 2005. Available online at [http://select.nytimes.com/search/restricted/article?res=F30913F93A540C768DDDAC0894DD404482] 21 December 2006 (subscription needed). [2] “What Are Sea-Monkeys Anyways?” Available online at [http://www.sea-monkey.com/html/aboutsm/whatarethey.html] 21 December 2006. [3] Free Patents Online. Available online at [http://www.freepatentsonline.com/] 21 December 2006. [4] Wikipedia. “Sea-Monkey.” Available online at [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sea_monkeys] 21 December 2006. [5] McGraw-Hill AcessScience. “Cryptobiosis.” Available online at [dx.doi.org/10.1036/1097-8542.170300] 21 December 2006. [6] Wikipedia. “Sea-Monkey.”

 

Comments

Crystals's picture

Sea Monkey and Sea Angel. Which is More Beautiful?

I've seen the sea angels during my trip to Hokkaido. I think they are more beautiful in comparison to the Sea Monkey.

See the Sea Angel Here: http://fenyu.org/wp-content/photos/2008/05/Clione_Limacina_Sea_angels.jpg

sano's picture

More information about sea-monkey

"Sea Monkeys were first marketed in 1957 by Harold von Braunhut as Instant Life, though Braunhut changed the name to "Sea-Monkeys" on May 10, 1962."

Found in: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sea-Monkey

WikiPatents's picture

Check out the "Sea Monkey" patent

Read the text & download the PDF of the Sea Monkeys patent by going to this page (http://www.wikipatents.com/3673986.html) on www.WikiPatents.com. You can also comment on the market value, technical accuracy, inventors claims, and other aspects of the patent.

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