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- Chapter 40: Marine Snows -


  The search party for Joey consisting of four whales decided to act in pairs for the time being. One pair approaches the coast of "Whale-Eater Islands" and carefully examines the shore of the bay and the cape. The other pair waits offshore and listens to the surroundings. When killer whales or "Floating Rock" are attacking, the members sound a predetermined signal, joins quickly and runs away or takes a posture of defense. It was unknown how long it will take, but Claire was willing to search thoroughly this "Whale-Eater Islands" in that way.
  The duty of search now was Claire and Douglas. Here was about 50 miles from the peninsula at the end of the ria coastline to the south. Since the coast topography is smooth and there is nothing that interrupting the sound, they can detected immediately if there is any danger. So, while waiting for the two whales off the coast, Cherokee and Jansen had nothing to do but took time off.
"Hey, Master. When will you tell us the continuation of 'Moby-Dick'?"
  Cherokee pestered while floating gently on the surface of the sea and blowing leisurely.
"Well, whenever I feel like to talk about it."
  Jansen looked like slamming laying his head like a black log between the waves, but he is sharpening the auditory nerve.
"Such a thing, I will become insomnia again as it is this way."
  Cherokee made his eyes look miserable blatantly, swinging his head and blurting; "Oh, I can not sleep!", so that Janssen reluctantly searched for a suitable one from the list of stories that are packed in a huge head.
"OK, then, I will tell you a more funny story. Have you ever seen a star, Youngster?"
"Star?"
  Some whales have sharp eyes, and they had decided to choose "Philosophers" or "Dreamers" who will spend their time watching the starry sky above the clean ocean in the air. If some one see the stars coloring the jet black night sky, they can't help but indulge in romantic thought about the universe and the world. But planets and bright first stars are at most for ordinary whales. However, they know that migratory birds do astronomical observations and add to the determination of course when traveling in the sky.
"Well, the star shining in the night sky is not visible in my weak eyesight, but the other stars have someone shining in the sea. Besides, it is made of life itself. As usual, the stars continue to glitter like stars in the sky. As long as life is born, as long as the sea is there, it never changes, never cease. What I talk is the story of the guy who fell in love with the stars that dance in the sea."
  Cherokee suddenly looked overhead above a gentle wave. The sky is clear autumn, of course there is not even one star.
  He thought; Well, what kind of stars will Master show me?

The creature who saw the stars falling in the sea only one in the world
"Well, Mother Meta-Ceti has created quite a lot of races. They were all unique, they understood their way of life and were connected to the world in any way. Everyone was doing that and enjoying life freely. However, she also made up a failing work just one. His name was Krake.
"Krake was like a mass of flabby swollen cells with something colors of white and black. And his size seemed to be one mile square. He put even blue whales to shame. But it is unclear as to how many hundreds and dozens of feet in length since his shape was undefined. He had single projected round eyeball, and its diameter was about my head. Other than that, it could not tell which was the head or the berry or the back, which was front or behind.
"His pulpy presence and thick and heavy was powerful if Krake was stretching on the ground, but he was a bastard of no use nearly anything. What he could do was just crawling slowly. There was nothing he could not eat even muddy or dead, and indeed, whatever on the way was eaten. But he was too dull to catch prey at all, animals couldn't care less even if they pierce him. However, it did not mean they could eat Krake. He was dauntless as he so big, but his meat was horribly unpleasant and smelled badly.
"All the animals fled to other and concealed themselves when Krake came. Birds stop singing, fish go to the bottom of the water at the same time, and even an insect does not approach him. Plants closed flowers and leaves hard and prayed that he passed away quickly. Even the wind seemed to stop breathing. Krake had no friends of the same race. Meta-Ceti seemed to be truly discouraged, and she did not think to create another one of his family.
"Indeed, she was in trouble with Krake's treatment. He was too big anyhow. He had already nowhere to go on the land. He seemed to have caused a variety of incidents, but it does not convey until detailed information to us the underwater races. Nonetheless, she also could not expel him, who are living in reality, to the universe. So then, Meta-Ceti tried to set the ocean which is larger than the land area and can accommodate even large ones as his residence.
"First, Krake was assigned to live at a beach. However, when his giant body covered all over the sandy beach, sand bubble crabs, bristle worms, clams, razor shells and sand dollars had suffocated. As it's not good, next he was transferred to a rocky beach. However, because Krake occupied a reef, fish could not come close to laying eggs there. Seaglass, sponges, oysters and sea anemones did not have a residence. Many living creatures complained towards Meta-Ceti. When considering coral reefs, butterflies, sea slugs, damselfish, clownfish and corals who is their landlord soon formed Krake Antagonist Alliance and she got a rebound before putting it into practice. Crown-of-thorns starfish was still better than him for them. Since it can not be helped, Meta-Ceti took Krake to the middle of the open ocean. She thought it would be fine to let him float on the wider ocean, but he changed the ocean current anyhow. For the whales, traffic hindrance is also outstanding as this guy hangs around on the way back. It is a terrible traffic hurdle for whales as he is standing in the migration root. Glutton sharks, killer whales and barracuda did not want to eat only him. Even barnacles, mussels and Serpulidae also did not want to stick to him.
"Meta-Ceti was troubled at all. All the creatures neglect and refuse Krake. With this, there is no more place to go for him. Wait. At that moment she came up with an idea.
"Actually Meta-Ceti had another difficult problem at this time. In the world of living things, firstly algae grow in the sunlight, small animals such as krill eat it, fish and squid also eat it, life is transferred from small to big in that way, then we whales comes at the end. Well then, what will happen after we died? Whether you are going to beat up to the beach, eat sharks as dead meat, or sink to the bottom. The answer is whether to strangle to the beach, to be eaten by sharks as dead meat, or to sink to the sea bottom. Even small creatures may sink without being eaten when they died. Then, every living creature drops a lot of feces. Meta-Ceti let a variety of fish and squid races live from the surface layer to the middle layer and the deep layer, so that they could feed the foods coming down from the sea top, but inevitably licking occurred. So the carcasses and feces of the creatures gradually accumulated on the ocean floor. When it leaves as it is, the sea will be filled with the dead creatures.
"Not only that. Greenery creatures such as seaweed and diatoms can not only be lighted. They don't grow unless near the place whether the estuary where the water of the river carrying nutrients on the land is poured, or the area where the sea water is stirred well and the nutrients rise from the bottom. That's why 'Embrace Sea' near the equator which latitude is less than 'Fertile Sea' or 'Foison Sea' and sun is more glittering, do not become our 'Dining Area'. If someone will break down dead organisms into nutrients and replenish them, the sea life will be exhausted. "So, Meta-Ceti thought to send Krake as 'Cleaning Worker' of stacked dead bodies and excrement at the bottom of the deep ocean where nobody lived at that time. Krake who was abhorred by any race and had no place to put himself thought repeatedly that he wanted to die more, but even if he committed suicide his big body is troublesome so much trouble for everyone. Krake was happy to respond to the request of Meta-Ceti. He did not think that the work was dirty or base particularly, and he felt worth the effort told Meta-Ceti, "It is useful for everyone." Right now, he dared to dive in a sunless world.
"The work to be cleared was truly piled up like a mountain with part of the body or leftover of various creatures, plankton's skeletons, shells, pieces of coral, crab's feet, squid's cuttlebones, fish's scales and whale bones. If Krake was in the present era, he would have been surprising to see the carcass of 'Floating Rock' which could not be cleaned up even by him. He cleaned them up as clay and rocky skin at the ocean floor were seen. He was able to digest anything he ate and could change them to essential elements that living creatures can easily absorb such as phosphorus, nitrogen and minerals. Water that melts them rose above his head and was reduced to life.
"The lonely Krake was silently worked hard while looking up with the big one eyeball and hearing the bustle of the living creatures carried to him a few miles below, whale songs and dolphin chatters, fish humming and shrimp castanet. Supporting the prosperity of all the races of the sea is an ugly hated monster who devote to cleaning alone in an isolated environment far below their silver belly. But it seemed that nobody cared about it. He swallowed the sadness he sometimes felt with sediments.
"Krake continued to finish the path length one after another. The continental slope runs down from the continental shelf that is the stage of life, ocean floor plain of vast red clay occupying almost 80% of the total area of the sea, seamount towering up with a rush and its rows last for several thousand miles, trench that opened wide in the epidermis of 'Child of Meta-Ceti', and ocean depths close to the center of her. These are expressing the dynamism of nature that is starkly majestic than any view on the ground overlooked by birds, and forever closed in darkness. However, it was the walls of dark water that reflected in the huge eye of Krake who crawled there. He just caught the model with a cold sensation touching the underside of the body, crawling with the planet's surface at a slowly and steady speed.
"Water frozen like polar waters. There is no season, no day and night, just the time passes. The mighty water pressure of hundreds of atmospheric pressures never tried to unleash Krake. Speaking occasionally, it was only that a large earthquake hit his flexible surface with rain of earth and sand, a sudden eruption of a submarine volcano sent a burning lava corps to him and burned a part of the organization.
"Krake nevertheless tried to abandon his work. It was the reason he was convinced closer to giving up as saying, 'This is the way of life appropriate for me', rather than he was the owner of the unstable will. Krake repeatedly recalled throughout his long life that variety of different lives are solidarized and singing over the heaven above the darkness. For him, the mass of organic matter unknown to anyone, the omission after leaving the surface stage of life, and the food lying on the path were proof of the only cooperation with the world where the light reached.
"Nevertheless, he finished his duties all over the sea for two thousand years. It is just time for a drop of water poured from the estuary to go around the oceans around the world. There is no worry that the ocean will become a landfill site of creatures of dead bodies for tens of thousands of years. Krake's body which was semi-transparent in birth was indistinguishable from rugged rocks. He lived longer than any animal, but his life expectancy was about to end as soon as he finished his mission.
"'Thank you for your hard work, Krake. I appreciate you instead of all the other races. Finally, I'll grant one of your wishes. Tell me anything you want.'
"At the retirement, Meta-Ceti said rewarding his labor.
"'Meta-Ceti, my mother. I am already accustomed to this world of high pressure, coolness and darkness, and can not go out to the outside world. But if you can do what I want, would you please show me the 'star' in the sky behind the world full of life?'
"'It does not matter, but why do you want to see star?'
"Krake felt scared of answering the question of Meta-Ceti and spilling out the loneliness that he had accumulated in his heart, and shake one mile square of body.
"'I have been lonely for two thousand years. I was regarded as an excavated being from other races and sent a lifetime without knowing the intercourse with them. I have no intention to say that I'm dissatisfied with this body, shape, and eating habits I gave you. However, I want to go to last sleep after touching pure and beautiful things at least once. I would like you to give me the opportunity to worship what everyone loves and respects.'
"Meta-Ceti gazed lovely with her ugly failure child who is only one creature that eventually accomplished the role as a living thing better than anyone else.
"'Look up at the top, Krake. Nothing is necessary to penetrate the cover of many tons of water and to expose yourself to a sparse atmosphere.'
"Krake turned the large circle eye, which has seen nothing besides the dark since he settled down to the bottom of the ocean.
illustration "There was a falling starry sky. No, it was really falling. Numerous light particles came down slowly to dance in the water he had thought until now that it was dark. Sky full of stars; each star has its own memories of life. The light trail that various moments of life draw. Burning crystals condensed to ascertain that it born, raised, transferred to the next generation. While blinking and dancing, proof of their life now came down toward Krake to seek the connection.
"'I've been living! I've been living! Now please catch me firmly!'
"'Thank you... Thank you very much...' "With a smile of peace on the big eye, Krake breathed his last breath while being held in the stars.
"Well, it was not that Krake's race ended as his one generation. Krake's dead broke up into a thousand pieces, from which a lot of small creatures were born and spread into the seabed. They are called scavenger races such as ophiuroid, giant isopod, hagfish and sipunculus. And invisibly small races called bacteria who are helping to digest food in their bodies or decomposing organic matter directly in the water. They take over Krake's work and are doing their best as they so little. However, there are no longer one who make fun of them saying that they are eating corpse and feces. Because what they are eating is nothing but stars."

"Stars..."
  The sky remained fine as ever, but the water droplets of the blow which Cherokee blew up with a sigh received sunlight and danced like stars.
"Does Master have seen stars?"
"I have seen the stars falling in the ocean many times. However, I am seeing it with my ears instead of my eyes. The stars watched with the eco-location are not appealing. It's just a noise coming in when searching prey with sonar. I don't need a big eyeball like Krake, but once I want to see the marine snow falling down with eyes standing in the middle of the ocean floor."
"I can't do either..."
  Jansen spoke to Cherokee, tweeting as envious.
"Do you want to see it?"
"What?"
  Cherokee is surprised and looks back on him.
"I said let's watch stars together from now."
"Well, you mean..."
"Don't be stupid, don't worry. I'm not saying that I bring you to the trench. This neighborhood has become shallow to off the coast. Here's about 600 feet depth. You baleen whale ought to be okay if it was in that depth, don't you?"
  There is a long trench that runs north and south off the east of "Whale-Eater Islands" where they are. The sea moat reaching the depth of about seven miles in the deepest place is where the rocky bottom of the ocean floor is gradually being swallowed. This trench is the end point of the sea floor's travel that the red-hot lava departing from the East Pacific Rise, where Cherokee and Claire encountered "Noisy Rock", arrived at while getting cold over 200 million years. While the four whales stopped searching and resting, Jansen was going to catch squid on the continental slope before this trench.
"But..."
"Don't you want to see stars?"
"Ummm..."
  Jansen scolded Cherokee who hesitated and faltered.
"Do you want to see, do not want to see it!? If you are a male, make up your mind!"
"Yes, sir! I want to see!"
"OK, so come with me."
  Following Jansen who goes up to the water surface and takes a deep breath, Cherokee also rose the caudal fin and started dive by blowing 10 times as usual.
  Oops, I have accepted it. I'm at a loss; Cherokee thought.
  As a matter of fact, Cherokee has never experienced a dive below 300 feet. For baleen whale him, the usual life was enough almost in the depth less than 100 feet. There is no need to dive deeply. He feel a sense of oppression as water pressure increases, and it makes him feel uneasy somehow and feel breathlessly that the water surface moves away. And also it is dark.
"Hey, Youngster. Will you not say no good to a dark place?"
"Never! Please do not make a joke if I am a dark place phobia, Master. Ha-ha..."
  The neighborhood will become dim while saying so.
  It's disgusting. Whatever, I can think that it is night; Cherokee thought.
  He was anxious if the mouth is not open so Cherokee talks to Janssen going ahead. The outline of his stern head already can hardly see.
"Hey, Master. What is the secret of your race's diving? I wonder why you can often dive hundreds of feet at once in a minute."
"He-he, the secret of diving is in our head. When I dive I take in seawater in my nostrils. Do not inhale into the lungs. There is only one hole in our nose, it is properly divided into two inside. It is running in the middle of our head and fulfills the role of a heat exchanger. When cold water enters, the inside gets cold and guts tighten and becomes heavy. I take it as a weight and descend. Speed can be adjusted according to the amount of water used. As the water temperature is greatly different depending on the sea area like 'Fertile Sea' and just under the equator, we need to adjust it accordingly. When I want to dive quickly I need to move the caudal fin the first 600 feet, but then I will reach the deep sea even if I sleep as open the nostrils. When I go home I moved my body a bit and warmed, then I let that heat go to my head with blood. Then, the head which had become a weight so far plays a role of floating and goes straight to the sea level. In short, our big head has reasonable reasons."
  When the Cherokee watched by ear Janssen diagonally ahead, he surely dive comfortably. It is correct that he sink rather than dive. He was currently diving with the humpback companion, but they cachalot should reach 10 times depth if they want.
"Hum, it's a useful head. I asked the young orcas before, but is it really true that you let yourself calm down and leave it to the attraction of 'Child of Meta-Ceti' when you dive?"
"Well, it's not a mistake. When you dive, just think about dancing calmly. You can just think of the squid, he-he."
"Uh-huh. Well, somehow the water is getting cold! It's as if I'm in 'Fertile Sea'!"
  In the meantime, the two whales had reached a depth of more than 300 feet. The temperature of the cool water going down can be felt on their skin. The neighborhood was as bright as before sun rising. Cherokee suddenly felt the chest tightened. Although they whales have separated ribs which are structured to be able to respond flexibly even if the lung contracts due to water pressure.
"This is the thermocline. From here downwards, the temperature, salinity, and density of water are roughly homogeneous, no matter where the sea is from the equator to the pole. There is almost no change depending on the season. For us 'diver', the main diving start from here. Hey! What's wrong, youngster!?"
  Cherokee suddenly thrashed his pectoral fin and struggled to turn.
"Help! Please give me air!"
"Don't be silly! Be steady! You're a whale, aren't you? Listen to the sound of your heart!"
  He listen to the heartbeat, as told by Jansen. The heart sound slowly returned to normal pace, and it calmed down where the heart rate became slightly less than usual as well as at the time of diving.
  I'm glad, it's moving; Cherokee thought.
"Listen up. Our body is basically made of water. It is the same as the surrounding seawater. So, no matter how deeply you dive, you do not have to worry about getting flat by hydraulic pressure. There is enough air left for the return if you don't wriggle more. Don't be scared by trifles. Well, it's almost over now."
  Jansen continues to dive again while getting feeling that he is truly same as a kid. Soon the "Instructor" dropped the speed, and the "beginner" could watch by ear the sea floor near. It was less than 10 minutes since they started to dive, but Cherokee felt that it seemed as much as four or fifty minutes that was time always Jansen dive.
"Full-scale star falling can not be watched by ear unless diving deeper, but descendants of Krake probably have much more in this neighborhood. There is also a lot of organic matter that descends on a shallow shelf with high productivity, so scavenger races do not have to worry about eating it. The more you go to the deep ocean the more limited the kinds of their races. The creatures living in the bottom of the deep sea are waiting for baits that do not know when they will come down. According to what I heard, all the nutrients of the sea used for us whale's body has been brought down since the 'Floating Rock' has appeared, so the number of stars has decreased and Clark's descendants are also struggling.
"Speaking of stars, there is another kind of star in the sea besides marine snow. Many fish and squid who live in the deep sea have light emitters. This is of course a visible star by eyes. Because it is a world without any light, there is a troublesome problem how to distinguish between fellows and prey. So, they decided to exchange information among fellows with light signals with their own colors and patterns for each race. It is also light to lure the prey and, on the contrary, to blind the enemy's eyes. Some of the squid also have smoke curtains of shining liquid. Dazzling light is playing the same role in the dark deep sea as a black ink in a shallow light sea. Marine snows are past tense of life, but these stars live and blink actively.
"Deep sea fish is very interesting. When you dive for more than a mile, fish just like a mouth and a stomach alone is swimming in a zigzag. That way they keep longer as capturing prey just once. For those livings in the deep ocean, the sense of time a day would be like a whole month. As falling into a doze in the dense darkness that has no day and night, time flies like an arrow. On the contrary, I feel that for plankton which does not live long as a day, one day may be their lifetime and they enjoy each one second altogether."
  When Janssen said so and turned over to Cherokee, he stared at the sea surface like as his words would not be in the ear. He also looked upward. The sun was far more dazzling than the moon on the sea, but he can see something like light snow falling across sight in the faint light sparkle. It was something more like a "sense by eyes" rather than looking.
  It's a star! Stars falling in the sea, Stars of life... I can saw it!!
  And, someday I will be one of these stars... Cherokee thought.
  At that time, how sparkle will my star show?


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