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A storm over the "sea."

The Amoebic Sea, also known as Mare Amoebicus, is a vast, gelatinous, sea-like organism on Darwin IV, located in Planitia Borealis. It is a vast matrix of symbiotic life forms. It is Darwin IV's strangest biome.

This bizarre and misnamed biome region is blanketed by a gelatinous, 10-meter-deep organism covering almost five percent of the planet's surface; it is, in fact, the largest single colony animal known. Possibly because of the shock absorption and weight distribution qualities of the jellylike "sea," the sea striders that live on it have attained truly behemoth proportions. No other known creature rivals them in size.



Description

The surface of the Amoebic Sea can shine dully in the midmorning light.

It is in fact neither amoebic nor a sea: those familiar terms having been applied to lend the comfort of familiarity to something so very alien. Darwin IV's only "sea" is really more a desert in the traditional sense, a place of little precipitation, harsh and inhospitable. Yet life exists in abundance, relegated primarily to the sub-Outer Membrane zone. Beneath the rubbery surface are unthinkable numbers of symbiotic organisms living within the matrix colony, tending in an almost proprietorial manner to its needs. There are many layers of luminous creatures suspended in the gel, in such a variety of size and shape as to make cataloging them a lifelong endeavor.

The gel can seem threatening, a slimy, amorphous entity eager, in one's imagination, to enfold something into a gelatinous bosom (but, of course, it is not known to do this). This alien biomass slides in undulating mounds of sameness. Occasionally a jagged island of volcanic rock will loom, and there will be large communities of tiny, lighted creatures sidling around the rock.

At times, Eosapiens shall create a great puckered opening on the surface of the "sea" in order to feed on it. This results in huge globules of gel, backlit, looking like giant water droplets filled with spinning organelles pouring lazily upward in lazy slow-motion from the great puckered opening on the surface of the "sea", at times hanging hundreds of meters above the Amoebic Sea. The Eosapiens will follow their ascent, systematically puncturing the globules and inserting their trunks to drink.

During a storm, the "sea" is dark and slick, wind-driven ripples occasionally revealing luminous patches of imbedded micro-animals.

After a rainfall, the "sea" will be in a state of moderate agitation with two- to four-meter pseudopodal waves on its surface. This is obviously a reaction to a recent storm; but unlike watery seas, this reaction is always delayed about 30 minutes. The Expedition later learned that the agitation is a reaction to the introduction of water into the matrix.

In the dark of night, the "sea" glows faintly.

Littoral Zone

Stretching for thousands of miles around the Amoebic Sea is Darwin IV's single, unbroken littoral zone with soothingly flat terrain, boggy ground and strange creatures. It is by any standard a strange beach, with neither sand nor tide pools nor even waves lapping at its edge. Instead, one finds a constant slow expansion and contraction of the gelatinous matrix which sits about a meter atop the underlying beach. There is a genuinely surreal quality to this region: to the one side lies the vast expanse of the "sea" itself, rippling and undulating its jelly surface to winds that do not always exist; to the other side, sunken more than a meter, is the beach, so flat and still that it seems artificial. It is here that a silent war is waged between the colony creature known as the Amoebic Sea and the individual creatures of Darwin IV. The littoral zone is an ecological no man's land, a place of flux and conflict between two silent armies, and the land bears their marks.

It would seem that the "sea" has been losing ground over the last few millennia. Evidence to support this includes the percentage of flattened beach ground that has either fresh plant growth or older, more established plants. Some contested areas have only the barest traces of fuzzy plant growth, while other, long-ago-fallen salients are heavily covered with beachfingers. The "sea's" recession is not a result of vegetable encroachment, however, but is the end product of the innumerable, specialized animals that dine on the vast, gelatinous colony's flank.

The apparent recession of the "sea" may be a cyclical process involving surges in the population of peripherals - the various species living around and dependent on the colony. Most of these species spend many hours a day tearing at the gel's edges. They live quieter lives than their plains cousins, though there is still some threat from a small number of beach predators, for their ecosystem centers on the defenseless, protein-rich resources of the "sea." Their uses for the jellylike matrix are many and varied. Most peripherals siphon up the morsels they collect for immediate nourishment like with the littoralopes, while others liquefy pieces for storage either for themselves or their mates, such as with sac-backs. Still others lay eggs on or in the resilient biomass, taking full advantage of the nourishment to their hatchlings and the protective insulation of the matrix. Finally, there are those creatures who make their home within the matrix and never set foot upon dry ground.

As creatures of the beach approach the "sea" to feed, its edge shrinks back a meter or so in a parody of sentient apprehension. Often, after being fed upon by individual creatures, the "sea's" edge looks torn and raw, with partially shaved strips of matrix scattered about the beach. After about an hour, the once-ragged edge is completely healed by new matrix.

Native species (living around the "sea" and out on it)

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