[Tweeters] "I'm Mo l t i n g .....!"

Jeff Gibson gibsondesign at msn.com
Wed May 20 08:23:29 PDT 2015

With the wonders of computer tech at my fingertips, I just watched a short clip of that well known dream documentary film "The Wizard of Oz", wherein the Wicked Witch of the West gets innocently splashed with water by Dorothy and speaks those famous late words, "I'm m e l t i n g !". Definitely a dream from dry ol' Kansas. The old hag wouldn't have lasted long in wetside western Washington State!

Well, here in Port Townsend Wa., we're not melting, but some of us are molting!
On a recent visit to the Marine Science Center here in PT, I learned something about marine life! It's a great place for that, as you might imagine .
Down at the Science Center I have reunited with the joys of the microscope - I used to have one as a kid, and access to them in my college years ,but really have been microscope starved for decades. So on open days I try to get to PTMSC to look at plankton and stuff. Even though I'm bigger, and maybe meaner looking than many of the other children who come through the place, I don't try to hog the public scope all to myself - I like to encourage others to check out a device which has meant so much to me over the years. Some folks, young and old, are into it, others seem to lack the attention span.
Well, anyhoo , in an attempt to parse out the extremely diverse planktonic life, I referred to the handy laminated print-outs provided by the science center for plankton ID, when I got a wake-up call about Barnacles. In a previous post this spring, I floated what is now revealed to be my hare-brained ecology theory about seeing many barnacle cirri , or" feet" floating about the pier waters. I chalked that up to feeding Shiner Perch yanking them out of the barnacle shells - which I have seen before - but forgot that Barnacles molt! That was the heading on the laminated print-out photo: "barnacle molt".
As I have blathered on about Barnacles before on Tweeters, the Barnacle is not, despite it's shell, a mollusk, like a clam or whatever. Hey, even Darwin knew that! No, the Barnacle is an arthropod - sort of a funky shrimp in a stone house that it makes. Like a bug, or spider with their rigid arthropod exoskeletons , for one of these creatures to grow larger requires molting the old "skin", and thats what I have been seeing floating around PT evidently.
A bit later in the day, I spotted my FOY reptile, at nearby North Beach - a Garter Snake in the beach grass. Too zippy for species ID, but in the two second view I had of the youngish snake it did look remarkably fresh. It had probably just molted. Yes, while not arthropods, reptiles molt - maybe you've come across an old snake skin yourself.
Early this morning, to get the garbage and recycling out to the road, I stumbled into five full-grown deer cruising the yard for plants to eat. I do enjoy talking to deer, and did apparently have to blurt out- "hey , you guy's don't look too good!" because they were a particularly molty bunch.
I guess I shouldn't make such pot shots at other animals, as in my middle ages, I'm molting a bit of fur myself. So far OK, but will I have to someday do creative "comb-overs" on my head? I did have the idea of growing my beard out more so I could maybe do an "up-and-over", but that would require cutting out eye-holes, using glue, and making me look like a small Wookie, or maybe a giant Ewok. Male molting - like, dude, get over it.
Jeff Gibsonlosing fur inPort Townsend Wa

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