Sea Sheep - (Costasiella kuroshimae) are species of sacoglossan sea slug that has the unusual ability to photosynthesize.
World Oceans Day
Other Scottish Country Dances for this Day
Today's Musings, History & Folklore
"Green the color of the siren sea, whose favors are a mortgage upon the soul." ~ The Toll of the Sea, Sally Wen Mao
From the contemplation of the deepest of blues to the brightest of sea greens, World Ocean day is also a day to appreciate the beautiful spectrum of ocean colours and diversity of sea life, including the astonishing and rather cute Sea Sheep (bright green sea slugs which photosynthesize). Interestingly, the term "sea-green incorruptible" refers not to the beautiful colours of the ocean but to dangerous ideologues, and was first applied by Scottish philosopher, essayist, and social commentator Thomas Carlyle (1795-1881) to Robespierre during the time of the French Revolution!
World Oceans Day celebrates the beauty and diversity of all our ocean creatures and dependencies and the need for preservation and protection of these.
Whether you perceive the ocean as the "deep blue sea" or "sea green" its colour is dependent on many different factors, including depth, dissolved minerals and sediments, algaes, and the absorption of various colours of light.
Of the wide variety of sea creatures who could be described as a beautiful green, we have the surprisingly cute sea sheep or leaf sheep. This species of sea slug found near Japan retains the chloroplasts from the food they eat and uses them to manufacture their own energy - just like a plant. The process, known as kleptoplasty, is only found in certain sacoglossan sea slugs. While leaf sheep aren't particularly good at photosynthesizing, some species can live for months on photosynthesis alone.
This dance, designed by John Drewry, ironically references not only the shades of the ocean but a phrase related to some of the worst excesses of the French Revolution! Devised while visiting the Paris Branch of the RSCDS in 1989 (and mindful of his own birthday coinciding with Bastille Day), gives a nod to the term "the seagreen incorruptible" famously applied by Thomas Carlyle (Scottish philosopher, satirical writer, essayist, translator, historian, mathematician, and teacher, considered and one of the most important social commentators of his day) to Maximilien Robespierre, one of the most influential figures associated with the French Revolution and whose personal responsibility for the 'Reign ofTerror' remains the subject of intense debate among historians.
From Robin Buss' review of Ruth Burr's book on Robespierre - Fatal Purity - she writes:
Carlyle's famous description of her subject, "the sea-green Incorruptible", highlights the dilemma. On the face of it, Carlyle is doing no more than to manufacture a soubriquet out of the colour of Robespierre's favourite coat; "The Incorruptible" was the title given to him by his contemporaries. Most politicians would be proud to bear the name "Incorruptible" (though it would be tempting fate today); but adding the epithet "sea-green" has, as Carlyle intended, a slyly subversive effect: it evokes something from the depths, something slimy, something reptilian. And since Robespierre presided over the most bloodthirsty period of the French Revolution, the idea of him as The Incorruptible comes to suggest, not so much the decency of a politician who could not be bribed or deflected from his goals by self-interest, but other, quite different extremes: implacable, immovable, inflexible, inhuman... This is the "fatal purity" of Ruth Scurr's title.
The phrase became a popularly used term of its day to throw into relief the cold inflexibility of the ideologue. "Sea-green incorruptible" is formally defined as a noun thusly: one utterly, disinterestedly, and rigidly devoted to some ideal or objective especially in the world of political thought or action
Regardless, should you wish to see some of the greenest bodies of water in the world, click one of the contenders below, the green waters of Lake Carezza, Italy. (photo by Roberto Moiola/robertharding/Corbis)