Socially-Distancing Starfish

Peach-colored starfish in Edmonds, Washington. Photo by Cecilia Kennedy, taken a year or so ago.

Starfish stalkers beware: The sea stars are sick of us. They think it’s creepy when we stick our faces out over the water and stare at them. In fact, rare sea star recordings, which were later translated by a team of marine linguists—and then buried in my backyard and discovered by me—reveal that we are like monsters to them:

Original Transcript: Blurg burt gargle. Oozzle phooph poppity zip. Unsulf dlooper phooph zip poppity. Indif burpple zoomgoggle nip nop. Oomter zozzle whoopity. . . whopfit zoompf.  Whoopity whopfit nonnerflooful!

Translation: I’ve seen them. They just pop their faces out over the edge of the pier, and look at us with wide, terrifying eyes. I nearly lose my sea star lunch, every time I see them and now, it’s even worse. You can’t see their lips moving or anything. Half their faces are covered by some kind of cloth. If they’re close enough, they’ll extend two pointy extremities and. . . and. . . touch you. They haunt me in my dreams. I can’t remember the last time I’ve slept!

For this reason, and probably many others, the starfish were not out when Nate, Alex, and I visited the City of Edmonds park and pier Sunday morning. Snohomish County is right smack in the middle of Phase 1. We can move about outdoors or visit dentists’ offices—or get as much elective surgery as we want. (“Make me look perpetually surprised,” I’ll tell my doctor). However, most everything else is still closed, except for grocery stores and restaurants for take-out/delivery. And that’s just fine with me for now. Except, I’d really like to see some starfish, but I think they are social distancing—from us, not each other.

Puget Sound in Edmonds, WA–mountains in the distance. Photo by Cecilia Kennedy

Usually, when we walk along the pier, we look over the railing and see lots of fuzzy mossy rocks. Then, we might see just a little squiggle of a line. Maybe it’s orange or yellow or white. Then, we follow the line to see if it makes more lines in the shape of a star. The star might be squished somewhat or slowly creeping along the underside of a rock, but when we see it, we jump up and down and shout:

“Found it! Found it!”

The people around us are usually hoping to spot orcas, so when we get excited and jump around, we cause a lot of disappointment for a lot of people.

“Oh, a sea star. Good for you,” they usually say as they walk away.

Well, I’d like to see an orca too. I’d like to see an entire pod of orcas, but a random starfish is something pretty spectacular for us folks from Ohio.

Today, though we did not spot any starfish, we did see a little harbor seal. Here’s its picture. I know it doesn’t look like much, but trust me, that little dot is the head of a harbor seal.

Tiny head of a seal poking out near the pier. Edmonds, WA. Photo by Cecilia Kennedy

If I could remember anything from my high school marine language class, I’d ask that seal where the starfish are, but I have a few theories of my own:

–They are cartwheeling through empty museum galleries as part of an enrichment program for sea animals during lockdown.

–They are chaperoning penguins as they explore an aquarium.

–Someone gave them sidewalk chalk and they’re marking up the bottoms of boats in the marina.

–They’re peering over our beds at night and poking us to see what we feel like.

Reaction in Original Sea Star Language: Urk! Blopping bonfil narting!

Translation: Ew! They’re so dry!

Your Turn: What do you hope to spot/see when you go out on a walk?














23 thoughts on “Socially-Distancing Starfish

  1. Our town is being taken over by creatures and critters. So far on my allowed daily exercise time I’ve seen two squirrels and a deer 🙂 Despite living by the sea, I’ve only seen a starfish once. I think they really are in hiding!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Not orcas, but I have heard that in places where people used to swim with dolphins, the dolphins are missing the people so much that they are send gifts to shore in hopes that they will come back to play. And probably to feed them. So they like us better than starfish at least 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’d love to live somewhere where I could see dolphins, but we always get a thrill when we’re out driving and see any deer. The other day I saw a group of about 5 standing on a hill. It was very cool!

    Liked by 1 person

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