Once upon a time, in the vast open ocean, there were corals as diverse as plants on land and fishes as much as the stars in the sky. But they weren’t the only ones. There were also sharks, turtles, starfish, seahorse, crabs and other sea animals as much as you can count (if you can). But of course, there lived one tiny creature that was hard to miss.
She was colourful and considered one of the most beautiful creature underwater. Due to her striking colours, she was quite safe from her predators because it gives out warning that she was poisonous, which was not the case at all. Some of her relatives do pose danger for other animals if disturbed, but she just somehow harmlessly possess vibrant colours. Her name was Risbecia Tryoni.
She was barely 2 centimeters in length. She was so tiny that you might think she’ll get washed up by the strong currents and get eaten by other animals. But no, she thrived to survive. Her small figure helped her hid in holes and crevices easily, which was great because that’s where her food source will be. Sponges and algae she feeds on everyday.
Along the way she met friends. She’s a follower. She loved following them. And follow is what they do to each other! Sometimes one of them will be the leader. Sometimes one becomes the follower. Sometimes one will realise that it’s better off to trail away.
But for Tryoni, she loved being a follower . One time, a friend that she was following caught her attention. She had found her soulmate. She knew that this other Tryoni is the best for her and it was a mutual feeling. So they started dating and exchanged their personal keepings.
Sad to say that she needs to move on after that. All of them do. All her relative slugs do. They move on after the courtship. But that doesn’t slow her down because she knows she has went through that one important step in her life! And by now, all the personal keepings that she has exchanged with her ex-partner were ready to be released. So she kept crawling and looking for a suitable spot. Better still, a place where it’s near to her food source. She finally found it and started her ritual dance. The sacs started coming out from her reproductive organs called gonopore, forming red ribbon-like structures on the rock. She started swirling in the direction of an anti-clockwise while laying the red ribbon, filled with millions of eggs.
And after she’s done, she moved on, leaving her next generation behind, hoping that they too will survive in the wild like her. What’s her next plan? I don’t know. Only she knows where her trail will lead her to. She might bump into new friends, start her trailing dance, meeting new partners again. But one thing she knows for sure. The ocean is a big playground with plenty of adventures, risks and dangers waiting for her. But she will just have to keep crawling endlessly into the open ocean until she needs to stop and rest eternally.
*This short story is inspired by all the nudibranchs I’ve met. All of them told me more or less the same story anyway.