Saturday, August 30, 2008

Boneless Spunjigator

Deep beneath the waves of the North Atlantic off the coast of Ireland is where the Boneless Spunjigator lives. It feeds on the strange sediment at the bottom of the sea, which can include plankton, tin cans, and undersea worms. This unusual sea creature is utterly boneless and in fact has very few muscles outside of its tail and snout (its arms and legs are utterly non-functional).

Boneless Spunjigators are among the longest lived animals in the world; they can and do live for over three hundred years. Irish legend has it that once every century a Boneless Spunjigator will drag itself ashore and shed its skin, revealing a human inside. It will then live as a human being for fifty years, after which it will put its skin back on and return to the sea. A Spunjigator in human form can be spotted by its supernaturally blue eyes, its ability to heal quickly, and a loose limbed floppy physicality.

Having a Spunjigator in human form in the village is said to be enormously good luck, bringing much happiness and money to the region. Villagers in the Aran Islands have a special Spunjigator Festival every fifty years; villagers wear full body fish costumes, drink a prodigious amount of beer and whiskey, and dance the night away in a floppy, mindless trance. The festival is how the villagers attempt to entice a Spunjigator to visit.

The legend of the Boneless Spunjigator appears frequently in Irish literature. In John Synge's play The Playboy of the Western World, Christy Mahon is at first thought to be a Spunjigator in human form. Yeats retold the legend of the Spunjigator in his epic poem Century's Wild Deep Sea Abandon, as did, more recently, playwright Martin McDonough in his play The Beauty Queen of Lehane. In television and film, a recent episode of the BBC television series Torchwood dealt with a Boneless Spunjigator who can't find her skin and begins killing sailors for their blood.

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