Neptune’s necklace/Aphrodite’s pearls

by | Feb 18, 2012 | Uncategorized | 12 comments

Every tide brings a different treasure. This is what I’m discovering as I do my Tai Chi by the sea each morning. The tide is right out now, and the air smells tangy. One of my favourite seaweeds sprawls out across the rocks.

It leaves a greeny-gold trail. Neptune’s necklace: what a descriptive name. The beads are hollow, and contain both water and gas, which enables them to float. I just found out that this seaweed has another name (besides Aphrodite’s pearls, which I think I might have made up), and this one made me smile: bubbleweed. I thought about how children can’t resist popping the little bladders and making them burst and spurt, and about the funny post that Penny from lifeonthecutoff wrote about people’s compulsion to pop all the cells in bubblewrap.

Neptune’s necklace also brings back some special memories for me. Back in my artist days I used to make art on the beach. One year I was asked to be ‘artist in residence’ at Tawharanui, one of our regional parks, and to make art on the beach for a day. Whatever could I make?
I decided to make big trails of Neptune’s necklace out of sand, and leave them there for the incoming tide to sculpt and eventually take away.

The photos are in storage, alas, but I found these ‘artist’s notes’ in a file box.
In the course of my research I gathered this seaweed – also known as ‘bladderwort kelp’, and learned about how it mates with itself. On the surface of the individual ‘bladders’ lie the sexual cells. When the conditions are right, the sperm and egg cells all release together in one great burst, and fertilisation occurs. Then at high tide, the fertilised eggs are carried away.
Well, I had quite a pile in my fridge that I’d brought home, luckily placed into a plastic bag, because after a while I heard a strange noise coming from the fridge: a kind of hissing and exploding. I looked inside, and discovered that the pesky kelp was mating with itself in there. Something about the fridge must have created the perfect conditions. (I see from my notes that being cold and dry triggers reproduction).

So now, calmly doing my Tai Chi at low tide, I start to laugh. There wasn’t a move that I knew of, called ‘shaking with laughter’, or ‘smiling fit to burst’, but there is now. I’m afraid my careful moves turned to jelly every time I thought of Neptune’s necklace/Aphrodite’s pearls mating in my fridge. Ah, such memories. I never know what is going to come in on the next tide.


  1. Hilary Melton-Butcher

    Hi Juliet – that’s a great story .. such fun – and how traumatizing to find out sex was happening in your fridge – not what you’d expect to find!!

    I love your views of life and Tai Chi by the shore ..

    Cheers and enjoy what’s left of your weekend .. Hilary

  2. lifeonthecutoff

    This is such a delightful post, Juliet, and I’m chuckling here imagining your x-rated refrigerator and Mother Nature’s own bubble wrap.

    That first photo make me think of Mardi Gras!

  3. juliet

    Hi Hilary, glad you enjoyed the story. I certainly keep having adventures as I do Tai Chi by the sea.
    Penny, I kept chuckling as I thought of your bubble wrap. An x-rated refrigerator! – that’s an apt description.

  4. Lynley

    I thought of your “special” seaweed as I walked along Plimmerton beach this afternoon.

    I had to smile about it when I spotted some “Neptune’s necklace”.

  5. juliet

    Thanks Lynley. Now you know its secrets!

  6. Hotly Spiced

    I remember growing up in NZ and playing with Neptune’s Necklace when I was little and yes, I used to burst the little bladders. It is my favourite seaweed too. I don’t think we have it here in Australia though. I’m sure I’ve never seen it.

  7. juliet

    What a nice memory to have. Evidently Neptune’s Necklace is found in some parts of Australia. Who knows, you might stumble across some when you are wandering along a beach some time. Thanks for visiting, Hotly Spiced.

  8. Joan

    I’ve been having a catch up Juliet. I am quite well again and out walking and getting fit. I love your link to TaiChi and I have been attempting it, and this morning I stopped at the little jetty and did’my’ Tai Chi beside the tall reeds and rippling water. What is it that makes your pics so NZ? The floating pohutukawa leaves.. the seaweeds.. the quality of salty water. You transport me right back to my childhood.

  9. Joan

    PS: I forgot to say how funny the goings on in your fridge! I never knew that before!

  10. juliet

    Hi Joan, welcome back! and how wonderful to hear of you doing Tai chi by the water also. I’m glad you are well again, and that my X-rated fridge gave you a laugh.

  11. Marja

    Aphrodite’s pearls mating in your fridge You make me smile too. I can see them popping out new bubbles. lol I love both of the names you mentioned. Would inspire me to write a story. have a great day or what’s left of it

  12. juliet

    Thanks Marja, it certainly made me smile, and I’m glad it’s done the same for you.


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