River Ecosphere 6 Month Update: Sealed Biosphere Terrarium


Six months ago I went down to the creek near my old neighborhood and gathered samples of mud and water to seal up in a glass jar. Within a few days life began to emerge seemingly from out of nowhere, and they began to flourish in their new environment. First came the snails and before I knew it they were multiplying. Then came the crustaceans: seed shrimp, Cyclops. They were so small that you didn’t even know they were there unless you got close and saw all the dark creatures twirling through the water. Then came the algae and the cycle was complete, each organism depending on each other for survival. Only two of my eco spheres remain alive now and this one has been alive the longest. A little over six months have passed since I last opened the jar and yet life continues uninterrupted. The Sun shines its light on to the miniature world providing the energy needed to sustain life. New species have emerged. Worms come and go. A small colony of spring tails continue to inhabit the dry area at the neck of the jar, completely unaware of the monsters that lurk in the waters beneath them. The dense forest of algae has become so thick that debris and the dead bodies of previous generations remain suspended above the ground in a cloud of green. Morbid as it may be, those decaying remnants provide nutrients for the algae which feed and sustain the creatures that live in it. How long can this possibly go on? How delicate is this balance of life and death? I can’t tell you for sure if or when this experiment will finally come to an end. I can only continue to observe it and document how it evolves over the ages.

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