Walden Pond Is Full of Jellyfish, But Don’t Panic was written by Jessica Leigh Hester, senior editor and writer at Atlas Obscura, which is where it appears.
(Thoreau, shown here as a statue in front of a recreated version of his cabin, documented a lot of wildlife at Walden Pond. LUIGI FRANCHINI/CC BY 2.0)
WHATEVER SOLITUDE HE SOUGHT IN the woods of Concord, Massachusetts, writer and naturalist Henry David Thoreau was never really alone at Walden Pond. He had plenty of beaked, scaly, and leafy neighbors at the kettle pond—the state’s deepest natural puddle—and he chronicled his encounters with them in Walden: Or, Life in the Woods, his 1854 account of a stint in a humble cabin. Thoreau remarks on the fish—schools of small perch, flashing bronze in the greenish water, as well as pickerel and more, all “cleaner, handsomer, and firmer fleshed” than ones in other ponds and rivers he had known. He muses about the pond’s muskrats and minks, and counts up the birds—ducks and geese that blow in with the fall chill, ospreys scouting for fish, tree swallows with bellies white as clouds. He describes insects—water striders “furrow[ing]” the flat surface—and the resident frogs, turtles, and mollusks.
But he says nothing at all about jellyfish. Take a dip in the pond now, though, and you might find yourself surrounded by them…”
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