The first thing that I think of when considering Sea Monkeys is how ridiculously unlike the crown wearing aristocracy of the ocean that they are portrayed as in advertisements in the back of comic books they really are. In the more idealistic days before I actually got my first set I spent considerable time pondering the significance of aquatic creatures having opposable thumbs and wearing pink ribbons. Ok, so I wasn't a very logically inclined preteen.

The only possible upside to marketing Sea Monkeys to children is that it acquaints them with the concept of death and the fragility of an ecosystem. Both of these aims can be accomplished by either spilling the tank (overt) or forgetting they exist (passive.)

Of course, the best thing about Sea Monkeys was Sea Monkey eggs. If you forgot about feeding them and killed them all off, all you had to do to get your thriving shrimp monarchy going again was let the container dry out completely, and then refill it with water and food. You also had to be careful not to overfeed them, or the leftover food would go bad and kill off your population. Not to mention they'd get sick... The accessories for Sea Monkeys were pretty interesting too. Sea Monkey Meds, to help sick Sea Monkeys recover (a light antibiotic? I'm curious about what this was, now.) A little bubble on a necklace so you could wear your Sea Monkeys to school. Little balls that floated in the water that supposedly the Sea Monkeys would play with (unwittingly collide with at top speed seems more likely.) I must have gone through five or six Sea Monkey populations as a child with a short attention span. At least three of those miniature doomsdays were caused by my forgetting about them. Should I feel guilty about that? I don't, but mostly because I don't let myself think about it.

There's an article in the Los Angeles Times Magazine (October 1, 2000 edition), written by Tamar Brott, entitled "The Sea Monkeys and the White Supremacist"

   Harold von Braunhut is the guy who invented the "secret formula" that allows his packaged hybrid brine shrimp to come to life. Apparently, he and his wife are still the only ones who know the secret.
   Anyway, the gist of the article is that Mr. von Braunhut is connected with certain extreme-right-wing white-racist hate-groups type of people. Among his many inventions is a pen-sized weapon called the Kiyoga Agent M5, which telescopes into a metal whip at a flick of the wrist. According to the article, "the M5 caused an uproar in 1988 after it was revealed, in a fund-raising letter for the Aryan Nations, that a portion of the sales proceeds was going to Richard Butler, founder and leader of the organization."
   The big kicker is, Harold von Braunhut is Jewish!
   Of course, this raised questions of whether or not the money from Sea Monkeys was also being funneled into the same cause.

Who woulda guessed?

My Sea Monkeys came just as the comic book said they would - eight to twelve weeks later. I ran around the house skipping with glee, "My Sea Monkeys are here! My Sea Monkeys are here!"

I decided the kitchen was better than the bathroom for the mixing of the Sea Monkey juice - it seemed more laboratory. I took some of the dirty dishes off the counter and put them on the kitchen table - thats when my little sister walked in "hey watcha doin?"

"Sea Monkeys. Go away."

"No! I wanna help! Mom!" Enter the mother.

"What is going on here? Oh! Your Sea Monkeys came. I better just stay here to supervise." Just then, Uncle Greggy came in - their family was staying with us for vacation.

"Hi there ladies! Whats that? Sea Monkeys! Cool! Mary! Savannah, Molly! get in here! We got Sea Monkeys!" Soon the room was filled with aunts and cousins and everybody clammoring to see my Monkeys.

I felt crowded and claustraphobic as I opened the packet. The tank was full of fresh water and I couldn't wait to see my naked little crown wearing smily family of monkeys. Then it happened...

It was one of those horrible chain reaction events that you see happening in slow motion but can do nothing to stop: the packet of Sea Monkeys spilled all over the kitchen counter! I was jostled and stunned and suddenly felt like I was going to sneeze! I shut my eyes...aaaa....aaaaa....aaaaaaa.....

but no sneeze came. All was silent. Nobody moved. I opened my eyes, but what happened? My monkeys were...GONE! I was so confused! Then my mother screamed.


After poison control assured my mother that brine shrimp posed no threat to my delicate lungs, I was free to go cry my eyes out, both at the embarrasment of inhaling Sea Monkeys in front of my entire family, but also at having to wait another 12 weeks to get new pets.

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