Just for Kids / Sunflowers in the Sea


By Margo Wayman


Shamsa was a bright yellow starfish that lived in a shallow tidal pool at the edge of the Red Sea. She looked just like a sunflower, with her five star legs pouring out from the center, much like petals. Her color added much beauty to the pool. She was a happy starfish, never complaining about anything.


Shamsa wasnt the only sea creature in the tidal pool. There were a few tiny blue fish, a sea urchin, a few sea anemone, a small crab, and many barnacles that had made their home on a piece of driftwood. "I love this tide pool," Shamsa said to the others, who were sometimes not as happy to be there as the cheerful starfish was.






Kateb, the grumpy crab, hated being in the pool. He walked along the bottom stirring up the sand, then hopped up on top of a rock, looking out towards the Red Sea. He wanted the high tide to come in so that he could float out of the pool and be in the open sea. When he heard Shamsa proclaim her love for the tidal pool, he turned his red and cream-colored body towards her and said, "Well, little miss sunflower, you might love it here, but not me! In fact, I hate it here!"


Shamsa looked at the angry crab. "But, Kateb," she said, "its so beautiful in here.Look around you. How could you not love it?"


Kateb snapped his front claws together and angrily answered, "I cant wait for high tide," then he turned back to face the open sea again.


Adiba, a sea urchin, clung to the rocks on the side of the pool. Her short, purple spines added color and beauty to the pool. "I love it here too," she said to Shamsa. "I dont have to worry about otters eating me, and I cant possibly get crushed by an octopus as long as I stay in here," she added.


Just then a small group of children and their momma came over to the tide pool. "Oh Momma, look at the bright yellow starfish. It looks like the sun shining under the water. Can I touch it?" a little girl asked.


"Be very gentle, and dont try to pick it up off the rock," her mother warned.


The little girl reached her hand into the water and softly stroked Shamsas legs. "It feels hard and has sharp points on it," she said, touching the starfish again. Shamsa loved it when the children came. It made her happy when she saw how excited they would get, as they watched and felt the creatures in the pool of clear seawater. As the little girl was petting Shamsa, a little boy picked up some sand and threw it into the pool. It dirtied the clear water. Kateb, the crab, covered his eyes with his claws, and Adiba, the urchin, closed her mouth tightly.


Momma said to the boy, "Dont throw sand into the pool. Cant you see that it bothers the sea creatures?" She showed her little boy how Kateb had to cover his eyes to keep the sand from irritating them.


He looked at the crab and said, "Im sorry, little crab. Im sorry, little starfish. Im sorry, spiny sea urchin."


Momma took the children and left the pool, and as soon as the sand settled, the creatures once again relaxed. Shamsa left the rock and floated over to where Abdullah, the sea anemone sat. "Abdullah, are you all right? I dont think the children saw you way over here behind this rock," she asked.


"Im all right," said the pale blue animal. He wriggled his tentacles in the water. Shamsa watched them swaying back and forth.


She asked the tiny blue fish how they were. "Are you all right, guys?"


The tiny fish blew bubbles and called out, "Were all right, Shamsa. We hid behind the rocks so the children couldnt touch us."


Shamsa floated back to her rock and set herself down on it. Just then, the first water of high tide came over the rocks into the pool. Kateb, the grumpy crab, began to clap his two claws together. "Yeah! High tide! Im free," he yelled.


As the minutes passed, more and more water came into the tidal pool. Shamsa, Abdullah, and Adiba held on tightly so that they wouldnt be washed over the rocks into the Red Sea. Kateb let the tide catch him and sweep him out into the deep blue waves. He laughed with delight.


Shamsa watched the waters close in deeper above her. She could see jellyfish swimming above, with their long dangling tentacles reaching down towards her. She watched as the seaweed gathered into clumps and washed in upon the beach. She also saw pieces of driftwood rolling in on the waves towards the sand. She turned and looked for the piece of barnacle-covered driftwood that had been in the pool. It was gone, heading towards the beach, like the other things. Seals played in the waves above her. Dolphins jumped in and out of the water, frolicking in the floating seaweed.


Night fell and it became very dark under the sea. Shamsa and the others in the pool fell asleep as the waves crashed above them. In the morning, when they woke up, it was just them, and their little tidal pool once more. Shamsa looked around. Abdullah was still there, his light blue body clinging to the rocks. Adiba, the urchin, was still there. Shamsa could still see the tiny blue fish swimming through the clear water. Then she heard, "I hate this pool! I thought I was rid of this place forever, but wouldnt you know it, the last wave deposited me right back here. I cant win!" Shamsa looked over to see Kateb, the grumpy crab, sitting on top of a rock, complaining as he looked out to the open sea.


"Welcome back," said Shamsa. Kateb mumbled a few words then went off to sulk. Shamsa looked around the tidal pool. "I love this pool!" she said.



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