[Tweeters] The Water Bear's

Jeff Gibson gibsondesign at msn.com
Mon Apr 21 09:07:16 PDT 2014

Well another Easter has gone by, with all the leftover cards, eggs, ham, etc. The easter bunny has resumed normal activities in the hedgerows of Port Townsend, or wherever.

Of course the actual reason for the holiday, the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, typically gets lost in the commercialism. Whether you can accept resurrection or not, the universe is a mysterious place. Everybody says so. Except religious and scientific fundamentalist's of course, who like to simplify everything down to pabulum. Whatever.

But hey, how about them Water Bear's!

This whole post came up Easter morning for the reason that I was snooping on Google Earth to show my folks, who have never used a computer in their lives, a picture of our ol' house on Sylvan Lane in West Seattle, which they sold about 26 years ago. The ol' homestead looked pretty good. It had always been surrounded by trees and greenery and it looked like it had grown up even more under present ownership.

One green item still present is the english laurel hedge surrounding two sides of the place. And in that hedge was an old, (even when we moved in back in 1959) rock and concrete bird bath. Tucked into an alcove cut into the hedge, it harbored a good growth of water moss. And in that moss were Water Bear's.

See, as a young naturalist, I had a microscope at home, cheapo but good enough, and was intrigued by pond life. So I examined the bird bath water to find many fabulous microscopic things - diatoms in their many forms, paramecium, rotifers, etc., and-- the amazing Water Bear's!

What is a Water Bear, you might be wondering. Well it's a microscopic creature vaguely related to arthropods (another mystery). They look sort of like a rubbery mole with 8 legs, which are tipped with gnarly claws to grip the moss, etc. that they eat. They also do look sort of bear like as they slowly amble about - also known as Tardigrades ('slow stepper'). Anyway, pretty cool.

As it turns out, the Water Bear (there are 900 plus species)(maybe) is one of the toughest little animals in existence. They can:

- survive up to ten years in a dried out state, then just add water, and voila! back to life.

- survive temps from minus 458 degrees F, to plus 300 degrees F.

- take extreme radiation

- survive six times the pressure of the deepest ocean.

- survived being tortured by scientists in outer space, as they lived through 10 days in vacuum.

So although the Water Bear doesn't actually achieve resurrection, it can be reconstituted at least. Water Bear's - many photos of these little wierdos online.

I mentioned finding Water Bears in my old birdbath on tweeters a few years ago, and was questioned about the validity of my sighting by Larry ("Vaux Happening") Schwitters, which was reasonable, because your typical nice clean bird bath ain't gonna have Water Bears. I explained about the moss. Anyway I thought it would be interesting if Larry and I showed up at the front door of my old house in West Seattle, dressed in borrowed Ranger outfits, with clip boards, a giant magnifying glass, and a big salmon net.

"Miss, we are here from Seattle NSI" we would tell the current owner, as we pulled out our fake NSI badges (Natural Scene Investigators).

" We have a report of a Water Bear sighted in your birdbath. We need to check it out. There may be a bunch of them ".

"Oh my god!" the homeowner replies." When were they seen?"

" Oh about 1970" And we rattle off the above list of Water Bear abilities, just before the homeowner goes to the phone and calls 911. We are then arrested by the SPD.

If I could make a film short of this I'd star Leslie Nielsen, and Dan Aykroyd as the rangers. Of course Leslie would have to be resurrected.

Jeff Gibson

tardigrade in

Port Townsend Wa

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