I am a year late, but I just finished reading an essay, "Nature's Best-Dressed," by Dr. Nathalie Yonow, a marine biologist at Swansea University in Wales, in my favorite periodical, Saudi Aramco World for July/August 2012, about the ornately decorated nudibranch or sea slug. Absolutely fascinating!
It happens that I wrote a poem many years ago about the sea slug:
for John Brinnin and Don Justice, on a line by Joel Sloman
If it is true that
"the sea worm* is a decorated flute
that pipes in the most ancient mode" --
and if it is true, too, that
the salt content of mammalian blood
is exactly equivalent
to the salinity of the oceans
at the time life emerged onto the land;
and if it is true
that man is the only mammal with a
capacity for song, well, then,
that explains why the baroque
worms swims in our veins, piping, and why
we dance to his measure inch by
equivocal inch. And it explains why
this song, even as it explains nothing.
*I take it that Sloman meant “sea slug.” There is another photo-essay on the nudibranch in the current, October, 2013, issue of National Geographic from which the illustration above is taken.
The poem "A Dedication" is from Awaken, Bells Falling: Poems 1959-1967, by Lewis Turco, Columbia, MO: University of Missouri Press, 1968. Paper. (O-P., but all poems are collected in Fearful Pleasures: The Complete Poems of Lewis Turco 1959-2007.)