02 September 2007


It is my birthday and like I stated in the previous post, I get to be a sass-pot. Well not exactly, but why not take this opportunity to make the STARFISH post? I like starfish, they are in the echinoderm family and are fascinating to study because they are voracious predators. The Paine (1966) study of Pisaster in their natural ecosystem is a definitive ecology masterpiece because of the establishment of the keystone predator concept. When the starfish (Pisaster) were removed from their ecosystem their predators and prey went wacky leading the ecosystem to a serious point of instability. When I teach Marine Biology labs I tell students that these guys are the "mean" ones in the ocean if we were to anthropomorphize them. I tell them this and then I pull them from the sand in their tanks and let the students hold them usually to a chorus of "ooohs" and "ahhhhs".

Starfish have been a major ecology example to me for a while and that is the realm I usually associate them in. That was until I started planning this wedding. I am on theknot.com quite a bit and am utterly perplexed by the amount of women who use them in their beach wedding decor. There is a common thread post asking how to get rid of that stinky fish smell their starfish have from when they were delivered. The posts rarely asks why they stink because folks don't care, they don't need to know that. When I first began knotting I would answer why they smelled (basically decomposing tissue being fed on by bacteria) to "ease" people's minds and then suggest they air them out. It seemed like my words fell on deaf ears because I rarely received comments. I actually found and do find the use of starfish in wedding planning to be really disgusting.

People will use whole dried starfish on invites, place settings, and even cake toppers... yucky, yucky, yucky. A whole dried starfish is essentially similar to a mummified human or other organism. I live in south Florida and occasionally geckos and anoles get into the house but don't make it out. When we clean we'll find a lizard corpse and that is what a starfish is like. I however am not going to put a decaying lizard on my wedding cake. I would do a vampire bat skull because they are super cool, but I only feel that way because of my zoology background.

One of my other issues with the use of starfish is wondering how they are harvested. I imagine tanks of critters being raised so that they can die and be bagged because they come pretty cheap via a number of decor companies. When I order organisms to study and dissect in labs they are available via scientific suppliers and you better believe I give students a speech about taking the dissection seriously or needing to leave the class because organisms were sacrificed for their education. However weddings... a completely different animal. I don't think that people are bad for using starfish. I just figure that they don't want to think of starfish decorations as once being living organisms that are decomposing through their wedding process. I have said it before, the sanest bride can throw her sanity out the window when preparing for a wedding. I am no different, I am doing things that are beyond what the simplest of weddings dictate.

I actually like starfish images like these made of candy and sugar. Just not the kind made of 100% real starfish tissue.

So this is my post today. I guess my birthday wedding-related wish. I would like folks to at least think about the origins of their wedding decor before purchasing them. My fiance also knots and he has stated similar views to mine and has been attacked by women going off about how he is mean and only there to try to make people feel bad. It seems that this is not a subject you bring up to a web forum of brides-to-be, sort of like how you don't bring up the subject of being fat to a pregnant woman. I don't claim to be a saint with my wedding planning either. If you are talking about using animal-based resources we are serving ceviche, jerk chicken, cake and ice cream at our reception. I think that can be as disgusting as putting a starfish on your wedding cake to a vegan.


janineb said...

I personally am thankful that you and Terry brought this up several times. I loved loved the look of the white starfish - crisp, clean and such a great contrast to any beachy theme colour. Then I realized where they came from. I nixed the idea from our wedding. I still look at some weddings, see the white pencil starfish and sigh longingly. Then I think of the credit reel of my wedding "no starfish were harmed in the making of this wedding", and I smile. thank you. We forget the origins of so many things in our society - our food, our clothes, and our decoration.

Christy said...

Great post! Too often we don't think about the origins of what we use in our daily lives. Thanks for making me more aware. :)