Monday, February 19, 2007

Coral Farms

New London is a Whaling City. Some day it may be a Coral City. There are reefs around Ledge Light and along New London Shoal, but these are glacial shale encrusted with mussels tucked just under low tide. No one scuba dives in New London harbor to watch fish and eels slide through the calcium deposits of Long Island Sound's microoganisms. New London is known more for dumped tires and lost lobster traps than tendrils of living rock.

A new breed of farmer has taken up in a little city with plenty of shoreline and little arable land. A clever couple has taken up residence on Fitch Avenue on the border of downtown proper but still in the heart of the city. They are mesmerized by coral. New London Harbor breeds a weedy coral that doesn't thrive in confinement. Like pandas, New London's native coral doesn't doesn't transplant well to artificial conditions.

There is an opportunistic breed of weedy coral that does well wherever it is planted, whether in a tank, a brackish creek, or a sea monkey habitat. This coral is native to the shores of Tonga, that island nation beloved of philatalists. Our newest New London biological entrepreneurs import coral clippiings from Tonga, air frieghted to Groton-New London Airport by small plane. They take this seed coral and grow it in tanks in thier basement. They have recently gotten a grant for a 'wet lab' in the new Science and Technology Magnet High School. They coordinate with the world's foremost bioluminesence geneticist at Connecticut College. They are crossing Tonga Coral with New London Coral to make a new species that will light New London's sea lane from below and provide exotic fauna/flora for high priced fish tanks in European techno discotheques.

How does one become a coral specialist? It helps to be a musican. It helps to be an unmatriculated English scholar. It helps to live in New London. When you are the only coral biologists in town with a vision, it is easy to get official support and grant funding. In New London, showing up and being willing to work is the best way to get ahead.

A salute to everyone in New London, Conn. who is pursuing thier dream. Everyone who is working to be the best they can be, is welcome in New London. New London will help them along. New London hasn't really been a Whaling City for more than a century and a half. It has become a city as multi-faceted as a cut gem with personalities reflecting different aspects of its promise. A salute to the coral farmers who are realizing thier possibilities.

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