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  • Writer's pictureInspiredDeb

What's a nudibranch?!! 🤷🏻‍♀️

Updated: Mar 18

[pronounced 'noo-di-brahnk']

As another week of November begins, the memory of my Portuguese holiday - the late summer sunshine and the sight of Atlantic crabs basking on rocks - begins to fade ...

Atlantic crabs on rocks
Atlantic crabs, Madeira

And so, I turn to Cannery Row!

John Steinbeck’s 1945 novella isn’t his most well-known, but the following description of a Californian marine setting is so linguistically rich and beautifully vivid, I wanted to share! 🌊

The narrator describes the Great Tide pool on the tip of the Peninsula as:

‘a wave-churned basin, creamy with foam, whipped by the combers that roll in from the whistling buoy on the reef. But when the tide goes out the little water world becomes quiet and lovely. The sea is very clear and the bottom becomes fantastic with hurrying, fighting, feeding, breeding animals. Crabs rush from frond to frond of the waving algae. Starfish squat over mussels and limpets, attach their million little suckers and then slowly lift with incredible power until the prey is broken from the rock. And then the starfish stomach comes out and envelops its food. Orange and speckled and fluted nudibranchs slide gracefully over the rocks, their skirts waving like the dresses of Spanish dancers.’

Steinbeck uses a wonderful variety of language techniques in this extract to convey the rush and gentle lull of the sea and captures a wealth of aquatic detail.

How many language techniques can you spot?

Feel free to comment!


... and in case you were wondering what a nudibranch is, this is an Opalescent Nudibranch - a sea slug - in Morro Bay, California 😲

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