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The Garden of Departing Dreams, by Lee James Pantas

Painting #5 The Garden of Departing Dreams

Prints available at artist's website

Fantasy Biology

Liza's Reef, coral reef art

On the far western side of Liza's Reef, near the edge where it  drops off  hundreds of meters straight down into the deep ocean, is a vast expanse of  lovely fan and moon coral the VanuaSemians call Le Jardin des Reves Partants -The Garden of Departing Dreams. 

Liza's Reef, coral reef artThe islanders call it The Garden of Departing Dreams because of the presence of thousands of green and pink bubbles that stream upwards from the coral in the early morning hours. VanuaSemia is a volcanic island, and it is a reasonable assumption that there must be some fissures beneath that part of the reef that allow the release of the bubbles.  The timing of the regular release  is probably  caused by the same type of geologic mechanism that regulates  geysers like Old Faithful in America.   However, the islanders  think of these bubbles much differently,  as "dreams" of the reef  itself that departed in the morning when it awoke. To them Liza's Reef was a living part of Motu Mana , their Goddess of the Coral Reefs, and the bubbles were her dreams made visible.

Liza's Reef, coral reef artThis part of Liza's Reef is home also to a species of jellyfish that shows a most remarkable survival mimicry. Rather small in size -the largest are no more than four inches across -they had evolved to imitate in color and size most of the soft green and pink bubbles that floated up from the corals. This adaptation evidently allows many of them to escape by hiding in the bubbles as they rise nto the open sea beyond the reef, and thus  avoid a number of predatory fish that feed upon them, including the sleek Chasseurs Verts (Emerald Hunters) that show up on this part of the reef everLiza's Reef, coral reef arty morning as if a dinner bell has been rung. These magnificent fish were up to two feet in length, and seemed to be a species of  tuna, members of the genus Thunnus. They have  brilliant coloration, with a sea green dorsal surface and bold yellow stripes laterally. They swim in schools and are amazingly fast fish that had developed a fondness for jellyfish sushi.

Liza's Reef, coral reef art

Another interesting little fish, which also displays an absolute terror of the Emerald Hunters, is a species of Blenny that for lack of a better name I will call the Bug Eyed Blenny. These rather small bottom dwelling fish had two extremely protuberant eyes that swiveled independently of one another. Comical in appearance, almost professorial if one can use that word in describing fish, and not over four inches long, they are quite common in this part of the reef . Whenever a hunter cruises over them they immediately dive for cover among the coral.

Liza's Reef, coral reef artLe Jardin des Reves Partants was is home alsoto  turquoise sea urchins that seemed to be everywhere. They have brilliant yellow centers and move slowly among and over the corals during the day. The largest are about three inches in diameter.  The islanders consider these to be especially prized by Motu Mana, The Goddess of the Coral Reefs, and believe they are flowers, Fleurs de Motu Mana, that she grows in her oceanic gardens.