Reporting by Robert Kokenyesi, Ceramic Artist, Beachfront Pottery, Godfrey, IL 62035, USA.
The crystal-like appearance of these sea creatures caught my eye in the National Geographic report linked below. The article details the unexpected appearance of the normally rare creatures in the East Pacific where even Alaskan salmon fisherman ran into huge masses of glowing creatures.
After three years of unprecedented warm water along the U.S. West Coast, sea temperatures in 2017 had finally cooled. Fat shrimplike krill had returned and again were providing rich meals for salmon. Sea lions and other marine mammals were no longer washing ashore shriveled and starving. Things appeared to be getting back to normal.
So, just what are these creatures? They belong to the same circle of animals as sea squirts. While sea squirts are attached to solid objects like rocks, the pyrosomes are free floating. Many individual animals, zooids, join together to make the jelly-like cylinder. The size of the cylinder can be pickle-size, therefore, giving the name sea pickles to the animal. The largest sea pickles are several feet in length, though.
The sea pickles glow, because they have light-producing bacteria. Apparently, they can create quite a light show, as their glow is described in several sea travelers’ journals.
Getting inspiration from the sea pickles is easy, but making a ceramic piece will have to wait. Right now I envision several thimble-sized sea pickles that form a slightly twisted column. How to bring out the luminescence is even more of a challenge. I might go on to explore fluorescent nail polish on top of white glaze, or crackled glass sheeting. Stay tuned.