Folks, this post is slightly off-piste, but it’s a situation that has been preying on my mind of late.
Around Christmas time, Rosie received a gift from her Australian cousins: a little aquarium, three sachets of powder, a set of wordless instructions, and some very misleading images of what you should expect at the end of your endeavours.
So misleading, in fact, that I assumed it was all a joke. I remember the ads for sea monkeys at the back of my Mad magazines when I was a kid. Even then, we assumed it was a scam.
But no. Within a few days, there were dozens of microscopic creatures darting about in the water. Quite a few of them perished in the intervening weeks. Three months later and there are three tiny white prawns (they’re brine shrimp) swimming about in the mucky water, ploughing through the sediment at the bottom of the mini tank, and spending days – yes days – mating at the top. Ugh.
I want to feel something that isn’t revulsion when I look at them. I mean, they’re harmless, really. Poor tiny things. They didn’t ask to be sold as novelty pets that, in most cases, probably end their lives down a toilet.
Rosie keeps looking at them and telling me I’m starving them to death. This is not true. It’s just that I forget to feed them from time to time. For a while, they were a healthy pink. Now they’re a ghostly white. Two of them have what might be egg cases attached to their nether regions. I think there is one male in there. Just typing about them is making my skin crawl.
Why the aversion? I don’t know. There’s something about the way they move, their translucent bodies and delicate bones. I want to give them away to a pet shop or aquarium enthusiast, but Ben has told me I’m being ridiculous. I know I’m not caring for them properly, but I can’t find any proper instructions on what to do if your sea monkeys actually live… for several months.
I’ve read they can survive for up to two years. This makes the hairs on my arms stand up. The problem is this: I am now responsible for these little lives. I can’t wilfully neglect them. I can’t flush them down the toilet, because they’re alive, they’re as alive as anyone else and deserve to live. But what kind of life is this?
Believe it or not, I was a little reluctant to write this post, fearing the good people at PETA might fire-bomb my home, or unleash a troll on my site. But if they really cared, they’d tell me what to do. What do I do? Do I put the little critters out of their misery now? Is there a home for sea monkeys that isn’t my toilet? Help!