Pink Meanies

They may sting, but not so bad as a man of war
Steve Bornhoft
Photo by Michael Booini / RPI File Photo

Along the Emerald Coast and beyond, all the way to Mobile Bay, 2022 was the Year of the Pink Meanie.

A species of jellyfish of a pinkish hue whose tentacles can reach 70 feet in length, the pink meanie, Drymonema larsoni, was not known to exist in the Gulf of Mexico or even known to exist at all until its discovery in 2000.

Ron Larson, a U.S. Fish & Wildlife scientist, was among the first to document the presence of meanies in the Gulf. Its scientific name derives from his last name. The Mobile Press-Register, in 2000, reported the discovery at Dauphin Island of a specimen whose bell was almost three feet in diameter. Over recent months in area waters, meanies were plentiful.

The meanie is a stinging jellyfish that feeds on other jellyfish — moon jellyfish, in particular.  It seems that whenever moon populations surge, meanies show up and take advantage of the jubilee. Read the titles of a few articles in scientific journals, and you will gain an appreciation of just how specialized people can be. But, in the natural world, too, there exist some remarkably narrow niches.

I first noticed meanies just off Panama City Beach in September. A month later, just as the Philadelphia Phillies were punching their ticket to the World Series, I met a man from Gulf Shores, Alabama, who said he had seen meanies and moons throughout much of the summer. I’m not sure that he’s a chaos theory/butterfly effect kind of guy, but he does assign cause-and-effect relationships to what I would dismiss as mere coincidences.

“I’m hiding money wherever I can find to put it,” he told me. “Philadelphia has won the World Series three times — 1928, 1980 and 2008.” Those dates, he pointed out, coincided pretty well with a stock market crash, an energy crisis and a bursting of the real estate bubble. In his mind, the Year of the Pink Meanie may become linked with some widespread calamitous event. The world, as I write this, indeed seems ripe for such a development.

I would be curious to learn how Drymonema larsoni got its nickname. Forgive me when I suggest that the handle is one that might be applied to a women’s hockey or roller derby team.

Over the course of my career, I have reported to, worked for and worked with scores of women. (This is not surprising in that women have long figured prominently in the worlds of writing, publishing and marketing/communication.) Only two of them could fairly be described as a pink meanie, and both were in leadership positions. Both were capable of publicly humiliating subordinates. One was a city editor; the other was the marketing/advertising director for a community bank. Both tried too hard.

The editor — I’ll call her Scarlett — once creamed me because she thought my reporting on a small Bay County city’s proposed budget was incomplete. She screamed at the top of her lungs that I should have calculated precisely how a .578-mil increase in the ad valorem tax would impact the owner of a home with an assessed value of, say, $100,000. The marketer — something of a Luna — petitioned for my firing when she felt I had not sufficiently involved her in the creation of a print ad for a checking account.

Scarlett would leave the newspaper business to become a staffer for a Natural Resources Committee in Florida state government, and I would become the editor of the paper where we both worked. Via email, she congratulated me. The bank for which Luna and I worked, failed and when it did, she recruited me to become part of a marketing agency that she planned to start.

They were easily forgiven for past mean excesses. Men, in many cases, were flinty from start to finish.

But let’s set aside dichotomous generalizations except to say that each of us is a blend who occurs somewhere along a broad continuum. What matters most in relationships, working and otherwise, is mutual respect and understanding. And sometimes, it’s not a bad play to plainly ask for it.

As to the World Series, I have worked very hard to avoid learning the outcome. I was afraid to look.


Steve Bornhoft
Executive Editor


Categories: Editor’s Letter, Nature