Janthina, violet snails,
Use bubbles as their sails.
Wind and currents cause the motions
By which they navigate our oceans.
The larger shells are of the same species (Janthina janthina) as is on the cover of the book. The smaller shells are from a related species, Janthina exigua.
Just a little bit about the snails. They float around on the surface of the sea (the technical term for this is ‘neustonic’). This is possible because living snails produce a thick mucus filled with bubbles. The bubbles harden into a tough raft as they get older. You’ll find pictures of the snails with their rafts in various places such as here or here. Currents and winds catch the raft, moving the snails around. They attach and eat some of the other other drifting animals, especially jellyfish like the Portugese Man of War.
Shells have the spiral shape found in many molluscs. The shells have ridges that are caused by spurts in growth.
Violet: purple with a softer tone,
Like this urchin’s spikey zone.
If this starfish cousin is peeled,
Violet underwear is revealed.
Sea urchins are related to starfish. This one is the purple sea urchin, Strongylocentrotus purpurea. Often found on the western coasts of the USA and Canada. They have a mouth on the under surface. The move slowly over rocks and other surfaces, and eat other organisms they find. This species can grow into sufficient numbers that they cause significant damage to intertidal ecosystems. The primary benefit of the spines is that they protect the urchins from animals that might try to eat them. There are other species of sea urchins whose spines easily break into tiny fragments or shards, and they can cause death of people who step on them when the shards enter the blood stream.
Violets are edible plants
Whose dispersal is aided by ants.
The seeds are iced with yummy stuff,
For greedy insects to carry off.
The term ‘violet’ comes from name of the violet plant. Oddly, violets (scientific name Viola) come in a variety of colours – including yellows and whites. Viola occurs in northern countries, such as the US and in Europe. They can become weeds. Some, not all, attract ants that will carry seeds off and they will germinate in new locations.
There are not too many violet organisms out there – but this is a male variable dancer, a kind of damsefly. His lady-friend is on the transparent page.
If you have questions, or examples of violet organisms, please let us know below.