When he began selling his shrimp in 1960s, von Braunhut marketed them under the name “Instant Life.” The kit sold for just 49 cents. “What you got was the packets of the shrimp and then the little packets of nutrients and the food the shrimp would eat,” Hogan says. “They did not come with a tank. You had to provide your own goldfish bowl.”
Females will develop a pouch when they’re pregnant, but they don’t need to mate to become so: They can fertilize their own eggs, a process known as parthenogenesis; when the eggs hatch, the shrimp are tiny—just about as big as the period at the end of this sentence—and can grow up to 2 inches long.
"People say, 'What gave you the idea for Sea-Monkeys?'” von Braunhut, who held about 200 patents, said in an interview with the Baltimore Sun in 1997. “I thought, if you could take a package of powder and put it in water and see it come to life. What could be more remarkable than that? … I was always interested in wildlife, and I was looking for something that would interest other people in it."
Well, they're not monkeys. And they don't live in the sea.
This trait enables Sea-Monkeys' neatest trick: When you buy a packet of Sea-Monkeys, they appear to be lifeless dust. Pour the dust (which is actually brine shrimp eggs) in a tank of purified water, and the Sea-Monkeys spring to life. They grow steadily over the next few weeks, feeding on a diet of yeast and spirulina.
Under the hood, SeaMonkey uses much of the same Mozilla source code which powers such successful siblings as Firefox and Thunderbird. Legal backing is provided by the Mozilla Foundation.
"There's something in the powder [Harold] formulates that does something to those eggs that nature can't do," George C. Atamian, Vice President of ExploraToy, which sells Sea-Monkeys, told the LA Times. "It used to be [that] only one Sea Monkey lived and that [same] one died. Now the formulation of the chemistry, the vigor of the Sea Monkeys themselves, is better than ever.”
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Sea-Monkeys is a brand name for brine shrimp—a group of crustaceans that undergo cryptobiosis—sold in hatching kits as novelty aquarium pets. Developed in the United States in 1957 by Harold von Braunhut, the product was heavily marketed, especially in comic books, and remains a presence in popular culture. May 16 is National Sea-Monkey Day in the United States.
SeaMonkey has inherited the successful all-in-one concept of the original Netscape Communicator and continues that product line based on the modern, cross-platform architecture provided by the Mozilla project.
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“The sea monkeys weren’t all that kids were led to believe from the marketing,” Hogan says. “I think kids are pretty clever at making things work or finding ways to have fun, even with something that may disappoint them because they’re not exactly what they appeared.”
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Sea-Monkey ad circa 1963. Photo courtesy of eBay; click to enlarge.
All people had to do was send the money to the address in the ad, and their Sea-Monkeys would arrive in the mail.
On October 29, 1998, the Space Shuttle Discovery carried some very special cargo into space: Astronaut John Glenn—who, at 77, was participating in a study on the effects of space on the elderly—and 400 million Sea-Monkey eggs. The eggs spent nine days in space and, when they were hatched eight weeks later, the creatures showed no ill effects from their journey. Educational Insights commemorated the trip with a special edition aquarium built according to NASA design (above).
Sea-Monkeys are born with one eye, and pop out two more upon reaching maturity. They're translucent, and breathe through their feathery feet. They can reproduce sexually or asexually. They chase flashlight beams. In short, Sea-Monkeys are everything you could want in a brine shrimp pet, and more.
The animals sold as Sea-Monkeys are an artificial breed known as Artemia NYOS (New York Ocean Science), formed by hybridising different species of Artemia. They undergo cryptobiosis or anhydrobiosis, a condition of apparent lifelessness which allows them to survive the desiccation of the temporary pools in which they live.
Sea-Monkey sets that included tanks (notably Sea-Monkey Ocean Zoo and Sea-Monkey Circus) became available in stores in the late 1960s; soon there was a slew of other sea-monkey accessories, including Sea-Monkey Speedway and Sea-Monkey Fox Hunt (above), which debuted in the 1970s.
Sea-Monkeys are a hybrid breed of brine shrimp called Artemia NYOS invented in 1957 by Harold von Braunhut. Initially marketed as "Instant Life," Sea-Monkeys are sold in hatching kits as novelty aquarium pets. An instant hit, they remain popular to this day.
The Amazing Live Sea-Monkeys aired on CBS in 1992. The series—which starred Howie Mandel as a professor who accidentally enlarges three Sea-Monkeys to human size—aired in the U.S. and Australia and lasted just 11 episodes. You can watch a clip above.
Interestingly enough, Sam Harwell is the spouse of Beth Harwell. Beth Harwell is the Speaker of the House of the Tennessee House of Representatives. Sam Harwell is the CEO of Big Time Toys, LLC.
They were initially called "Instant Life" and sold for $0.49, but von Braunhut changed the name to "Sea-Monkeys" in 1962. The new name was based on the supposed resemblance of the animals' tails to those of monkeys, and their salt-water habitat.
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Sam Harwell from Nashville, Tennessee is the mastermind behind an elaborate Sea-Monkeys® counterfeiting operation in China. Harwell is actively marketing and selling his counterfeit in retail stores throughout the world. His counterfeit has NOTHING to do with the genuine SeaMonkeys® product that the world has come to know, love, and adore.
Fulfilment by Amazon (FBA) is a service Amazon offers sellers that lets them store their products in Amazon's warehouses, and Amazon directly does the picking, packing, shipping and customer service on these items. Something Amazon hopes you'll especially enjoy: FBA items are eligible for and for Amazon Prime just as if they were Amazon items.
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The creatures, whose tails remotely resemble those of monkeys, are derived from crustaceans that undergo "cryptobiosis," meaning they can enter a state of suspended animation in times of adverse environmental conditions, and stay in that state indefinitely, until conditions improve.
“If you put a flashlight to them, Sea-Monkeys will swim toward it,” Hogan says. “It’s kind of a natural reaction. And if you run your finger tip across the tank, they will often gravitate to it.”
The Sea-Monkey Handbook that accompanies the critters in that first set also offers a range of other products for the microcrustacean's pleasure, including a "banana treat" ("a long-lasting supply of tasty 'dessert' for your aquatic pets"), "red magic" vitamins ("this is the formula containing EVERY KNOWN VITAMIN your Sea-Monkeys NEED for robust health!"),"Sea-Diamonds" ("this heap of sparkling 'sea gems' make Sea-Monkeys happy by giving them toys they will actually play with!"), and more.
Pets at Home offers the ultimate pet shop experience. It really is a paradise for pets and pet owners. We have all the pet supplies, pet food, toys and accessories you and your pet need at great value prices.
Trade publication ad circa 1973. Courtesy of the Strong National Museum of Play; click to enlarge.
The SeaMonkey Project only supports the latest stable version of SeaMonkey. The below versions are only listed for historical reasons. For some legacy platforms like PPC Mac, the SeaMonkey Project has dropped support. There are however independent projects that continue to support some of these platforms. To learn more, see Latest Releases for Legacy Platforms.
Trade publication ad for Sea-Monkeys, 1972. Courtesy the Strong National Museum of Play; click to enlarge.
Ant farms had been popularised in 1956 by Milton Levine. Harold von Braunhut invented a brine-shrimp-based product the next year, 1957. Von Braunhut collaborated with marine biologist Dr. Anthony D’Agostino to develop the proper mix of nutrients and chemicals in dry form that could be added to plain tap water to create a purified habitat for the shrimp to thrive. Von Braunhut was granted a patent for this process on July 4, 1972.