Awards Week: Day 4 - The Bull Kelp Award

Well, this post has certainly been a fine kettle of fish.

By now I hope you've all noticed that my awards are sticking to a nautical theme. And why wouldn't they? They're each coming from fifteen feet below, rising up out of the depths. Just like pulling up a crab pot, you never know exactly what you'll get.

At its conception this next award rose up like the mighty Kraken itself and nearly strangled me to death. At first I thought I was concocting something nice and simple. Then Blogger and its "I hate all your images, I CRUSH YOU!" interface stepped in to shrink my award to the size of a hairpin, so I had to spend an hour chopping it into pieces to make it display correctly. It's times like these when I wish I had an insanely large readership as motivation.

(Me to Self: I'm doing it for the children!)

But I didn't give in. I labored through the long night to defeat (maybe) Blogger's impossible interface just so I could go all Scott McCloud* on you today. Therefore I'm happy to announce the inauguration of the esteemed, inestimable Bull Kelp Award!


Here we go!


Giant bull kelp is one of the fastest growing seaweeds, and when they grow they mean business. They get up to 120 feet long. That round bulb, which is filled with carbon monoxide, floats the kelp to a vertical position. Imagine thousands of these all growing together and you have one of the most amazing places on earth, a kelp forest - the Redwoods, only underwater. These forests are breeding grounds for all kinds of fish. Even fine kettles of fish.

Fun fact here, if you want to see a good example of the domino effect. People hunted out sea otters from the West Coast for their fur back in the 19th century. Sea otters love to eat sea urchins. Sea urchins love to eat bull kelp, but they, being short little critters, can only reach the kelp at its base. When they chew through it, it's the equivalent of felling a tree, except instead of falling down the bull kelp just floats up and drifts away. sea otters to eat the urchins means swarms of urchins crawling across the sea floor chomping through the bases of bull kelp - massive deforestation of the kelp forests. Without the forests the fish don't multiply, fisheries start to fail, and we all end up eating tilapia.

So the next time you eat tilapia, look down at it and say, "Damn you, Victorian fashion trends!"

Speaking of eating, the urchins aren't wrong about the kelp. I love eating it too. It's crunchy and delightful. Most seaweeds are delicious, as long as they grow in clean water. (When I taught classes in this stuff, I once ate some rockweed off the coast of Seattle. Ugh. Bit of a mistake, was that.)

What does this have to do with awards, you say? Well, despite the amazing towering structure of giant bull kelp, it lacks the same kind of specialized cells found in vascular plants. A cell taken from any part of the kelp looks more or less the same as a cell from anywhere else.

Isn't science fun?

The bull kelp, one might say, keeps a consistent theme no matter how large it grows. Consequently, the honor of the Bull Kelp Award goes to a blog that maintains its theme throughout the passage of time. I've got two for you:

The first is the Misadventures of the Monster Librarian. The Monster Librarian is an actual real working librarian (for real!!) who writes on all manner of book- and library-related things, including reviews, library lesson plans, literary awards, and so forth. She sprinkles in bits of poems and reflections about her real life to keep things interesting, in case you're not as die-hard a bibliophile as you ought to be.

The second is my friend over at CatholicLand! (which, despite its name, has no "Seven Deadly Sins"-themed rollercoaster, sadly.) Although most of his posts make me want to jump up and start a theological debate, I've really enjoyed learning about the Catholic perspective through his site. It's important, I think, to see where someone else is coming from, especially as our country gets slogged down in partisanship. If you don't have enough information to argue for someone else's view, then you probably don't have enough to argue for your own.

And that's how my post somehow went from kelp to politics in three paragraphs or less.

To accept the Bull Kelp Award, the recipient must somehow figure out how to write about bull kelp while still staying true to their respective blog's theme. The gauntlet has been thrown.

Tomorrow, another award unveiled!

*If you don't know who Scott McCloud is, see footnote.**

**Oh, wait, I guess that was the footnote. Well, you person-who-clearly-doesn't-draw-comics, Scott McCloud is an artist who challenges other artists to break the normal boundaries of the panel and the page. Go find some of his online stuff and be amazed.

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