The Soul of the Sea

It is said that the origin of the word “soul” travels through the idea of “coming from or belonging to the sea,” because the sea was considered the stopping place of the soul before birth and after death.

While there would be no way to fact-check the concept, it is assumed by most scientists that all life on earth originated in the sea. Where and how remains a mystery, but there are many candidate ideas coming out of the primordial soup. Energized by lightning striking the sea surface, or boiled and fused in the deep brooding fumaroles on the sea floor. Energy and chemistry; minerals and motion. An opportunity in a billion years to become. And once it did the manifestations multiplied so extensively that even in light of all that we do know, we also know we have only encountered a small portion of the beings who share our watery home.

Phylliroe off Tahiti at night. Photo © 2014 Fabien Michenet

Phylliroe off Tahiti at night. Photo © 2014 Fabien Michenet

If you want to meet something new, the ocean is a fine place to start. Just this week I was introduced to the Phylliroe a transparent, bioluminescent nudibranch that swims like a fish. And while marine vertebrates are still being discovered on a pretty regular basis, it would be hard to imagine not running into strange and undiscovered marine invertebrates if you took a little time to look.

There is really only one body of water on this planet. The glass of water I drink and then perspire into the air, fusing with the coastal fog here in my Pacific Coast home and dripping off the redwood branches into the earth and streams below. Or your condensed breath in the frozen atmosphere of the upper Mid-West falling underfoot in the squeaky snow. These waters all mix and flow, passing through and becoming the bodies of life on land, but eventually finding its way back to the sea becoming the bodies of whales and nudibranchs. If there is a Soul of the Sea, it is this water. It is all of us.

Happy Thanksgiving!