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Children's Stories
by Margo Fallis
A Surprise in the Kelp

A Surprise in the Kelp

A raft of sea otters floated among the kelp fronds. Waves lapped against their fur as they bobbed up and down. "Iím tired of eating mussels," whined Chloe. "Do you know how long itís been since Iíve eaten a sea urchin?"

"Och, that sounds delicious," Ainslee agreed. "I can almost taste it now. Yummy."

"Why donít we each go down to the bottom and see if we can find a few? Wee Bonnie, youíll have to stay up here though. Mummy will bring you back a crab or an abalone. Would you like that?" Maisie asked her bairn.

"Yes, Mummy. Iíd love a crab," wee Bonnie said.

"You stay here and weíll be right back. Hold onto the kelp fronds," Maisie said.

The other sea otters in the raft dove beneath the waves. They went from rock to rock, looking everywhere. When they surfaced, they had an assortment of things. "I found three mussels," Leslie said. She lay on her back and pounded the blackish-purple shells open with a stone sheíd carried up.

"I found two abalone," Mahri said. She started banging them together, anxious to have the tasty meat inside.

"Mummy brought you a crab," Maisie said, handing wee Bonnie the wriggling crustacean. Wee Bonnie lay on her back and bit into the crabís shell. "Delicious," she said, gobbling down the tender meat inside. Maisie had picked up a few crabs for herself and started eating them.

Chloe had an octopus in her paws. "Och, I hope itís not too tough. Sometimes octopus is very chewy," she said. She bit into it. "Brilliant! Itís tender and delicious."

"Youíre being very quiet over there, Ainslee," Mahri said. "Didnít you find something to eat?"

Ainslee was hiding among the kelp. "Ainslee, what have you go there?" Chloe asked.

Wee Bonnie swam over to see. "Sheís got a sea urchin, Mummy. Itís purple and crunchy."

"What? You found a sea urchin?" Maisie shouted. "You were going to hide it from us, were you?"

Ainslee lay on her back nibbling away on the urchin. "Well! You could have offered to share," Mahri said.

"Aye, Ainslee," Leslie added. "You could have given each of us a wee bite, especially wee Bonnie. Sheís never tasted urchin before."

Ainslee stopped eating. "Och, all right. Come here, wee Bonnie. Iíll give you a bite, but the rest of you will have to find your own sea urchin." She bit a piece off and gave it to the wee one.

"Thatís delicious. I like sea urchin. I want more sea urchin, Mummy!" wee Bonnie began to wail.

"Now look what youíve done!" Maisie said to Ainslee. "Youíve gone and made wee Bonnie cry."

Suddenly Ainslee disappeared beneath the water. "Where did she go?" Leslie asked.

Ainslee surfaced a few minutes later. "Here you go, ladies. Urchins for everyone," she giggled and passed one of the prickly purple creatures to each of them. I found a whole lot of them. Hereís one for you, wee Bonnie."

The sea otters tossed their crabs, mussels, and abalone into the waves and nibbled on sea urchin. Two seagulls came flying by and spotted the half-eaten shellfish. They landed near the raft of sea otters.

"Weíre eating sea urchin," wee Bonnie told the seagulls. "Itís delicious." The seagulls squawked and flew off with their leftover bits of abalone, mussel and crab.

"You told them!" Maisie laughed. The others joined in.

"You canít have sea urchin every day, wee Bonnie, but now and then for a special treat, weíll find you some," her mum said.

After theyíd finished eating, the otters lay on their backs and took a nap as the waves carried them gently out to sea.

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