Washed Ashore

Seaweed has always washed up on the shore. Men come in tractors and plow it away. I never gave much thought about where the seaweed went. To a garbage dump, on a barge back into the sea, or to a sushi joint where they made a contribution to a California roll. Like most unwanted things in our society I gave no thought as to where the seaweed went. Out of sight, out of mind.

But lately the seaweed has come at such furious rates that the city doesn’t know what to do with it. So the seaweed sits there piling up. Getting thicker and denser, and smelling slightly funkier as the sun beats down on it. Flies and other nanoscopic insects hover around the decomposing pile.

To get to the ocean now one must navigate over the pile of seaweed. It’s packed densely enough so your foot does not collapse into the mulch, but still you hotstep it to the water as you’re not sure what exactly your foot might be touching.

It reminds me of a death I once heard about. The owner of an NFL team swam in the Pacific Ocean every day until drowning. He was found smothered by a floating mass of seaweed. The man who told me of this fatality was a conspiracy nut and was convinced the man’s wife had him killed because, “How could seaweed kill you?”

I thought of this as I was waist high in the water adjusting my goggles. I saw something moving in the surface of the water. It was golden and about the size of a toy car. It took me a second to figure out what this squirming thing was. a crab. It was sidewinding through the water I thought at first to pinch me, but then it snared a piece of seaweed which it camouflaged itself to perfectly. I never knew the seaweed housed creatures so large. I knew that if you shook around a splotch of seaweed over an outstretched hand, tiny shrimp would come off it, but this was something new.

The crab and the seaweed were ten feet from shore where a new life awaited them. At least until the city figures out what to do with the seaweed.

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