National Sea-Monkey Day

Today is National Sea-Monkey Day!  This holiday falls on May 16th of every year and was created to celebrate these magical creatures that come alive with a little dust.  After the popularity of ant farms,  Harold von Braunhut was fascinated by a species of brine shrimp that he saw being sold in a pet store as food and invented Sea-Monkeys and hatching kits in 1957.


What Exactly Is A Sea-Monkey?

Sea-Monkeys are actually not monkeys at all and they do not live in the sea.  So what on Earth are these little swimming creatures?  In short, Sea-Monkeys are an artificial breed of brine shrimp.  They are born with one eye and pop out two more when they reach maturity.  Their bodies are see-through, they breathe through their feet, and their tails vaguely resemble a monkey’s tail.  Sea-Monkeys do not exist in nature and they were created and bred in a lab.  It took several years for scientists to create an animal that was big enough for people to see and that could live long enough to be a pet.

Sea-Monkeys are created from crustaceans that go through “cryptobiosis.”  This term means that the crustaceans can enter a state of suspended animation (stay alive without moving) when living conditions are not ideal and until the environment improves.  This process allows the Sea-Monkeys to stay alive in the packet you receive in the mail and while you prep their aquarium.


Males Vs Females

National Sea Monkey DayIt is fairly easy to tell male Sea-Monkeys apart from female Sea-Monkeys.  Males have whiskers under their chins whereas females do not.  Males are often locked together and fight for the attention of females, however, if you see a whiskered and non-whiskered pair together, you are witnessing a private sea-monkey moment that can last for DAYS!  Females also develop a pouch when pregnant, but they do not need a male in order to reproduce since females can fertilize their own eggs.


They Got Their Name From Their Tail

Von Braunhut decided to call the crustaceans Sea-Monkeys due to their tail that closely resembles that of a monkey’s tail.  The “sea” part of the name came from the fact that they are water animals, however, they do not live in the ocean.  Sea-Monkeys were originally called and marketed as “Instant Life”, but in 1964 the product dropped that name and they became Sea-Monkeys.  On the packaging, Sea-Monkeys are drawn as naked, pot-bellied creatures with crown heads, but in reality, the brine shrimp look nothing like the drawings!


How A Sea-Monkey Aquarium Works

Most Sea-Monkey kits come with a plastic aquarium containing a ventilated lid, built-in microscopes, and a molded seascape bottom.  The kits claim that the pets may live up to two years, but every pack is different and the lifespan greatly depends on the quality of water and care that you provide.National Sea Monkey Day

To get started, pour tap water into the plastic aquarium and add the nutrient packet to prep your tap water.  Wait 24 hours and then add the packet of eggs.  According to von Braunhut’s patent, there are actually eggs in the nutrient packet, along with a dye in the second packet of eggs that makes the first hatchlings easier to see.

Follow the package instructions for feeding.  Adult brine shrimp digestive tracts become dark when they are full.  If you see a dark line running down a Sea-Monkey’s body, it is most likely eating well.


Sea-Monkeys Went To Space

The Space Shuttle “Discovery” took 400 million Sea-Monkey eggs to space on October 29, 1998.  The eggs were in space for nine days where they were exposed to space’s many different elements.  Once back on Earth, the eggs did not show any adverse effects when they hatched eight weeks later.  They are quite resilient creatures!


Sea-Monkey TV and Video Games

Due to the popularity and hype created around Sea-Monkeys, the creatures were featured on many television shows including a South Park episode, The Simpsons, American Dad, Roseanne, Desperate Housewives, and more!  They also inspired a video game, The Amazing Virtual Sea-Monkeys, in which predatory fish like eels and octopuses are waiting to catch Sea-Monkeys.  The player can try to protect the Sea-Monkeys and guide them around the fish to safety.

Additionally, in 1992, CBS aired a show about the critters called, The Amazing Live Sea-Monkeys.  The series starred Howie Mandel as a professor who unintentionally grew three life-size Sea-Monkeys.  The show aired in the United States and Australia and was 11 episodes in total.


Did you own Sea-Monkeys when you were growing up?  Do your kids have pet Sea-Monkeys?  Let us know!