Teaching Your Neopet to Swim! Vol. 1 - Meerca
I have recently embarked on an important, yet difficult quest. With the increasing number of Neohomes being furnished with extravagant swimming pools, indoor ponds and ornate water fountains, I wondered just how safe our Neopets are in their own homes. Consequently this question formed in my mind; “Is it possible to teach non-aquatic Neopets to swim?” With this thought in mind, I have taken the time to painstakingly work with each species of landlubbing Neopet, attempting to overcome their natural tendencies toward dry ground and adapt their genetic idiosyncrasies to movement in water.
To begin my experiment I turned to my faithful companion, Daws the Meerca. Unfortunately Daws is extremely frightened of water so her services weren‘t exactly volunteered willingly. After all, there is not much water within the realms of Brightvale and Meridell (unless you count the moat surrounding King Skarl’s castle, but a Meerca can clear the width of that narrow canal in one quick leap, not causing any necessity to swim across it at all). However after much begging and pleading and with some considerable enticement and bargaining of the edible kind, she finally relented to trust me with her aquatic endeavours.
Firstly, let’s closely analyse the anatomy of the Meerca - the species is most definitely aquatically challenged! A rotund body shape with short arms and legs and a disproportionately large tail. The tail itself is extremely strong and particularly useful for bouncing and bounding, the benefits of which are more evident in the Battledome. However with this strength, also comes weight, which is absolutely not conducive to keeping afloat. Additionally, Meercas love to eat! After all, they are directly descended from Chuffer Bob himself and this penchant for food has them sporting a barrel-like torso. This is actually a benefit in this exercise as I will explain later.
With all these things in mind, I threw some turnips into the swimming pool (they are surprisingly light and float rather nicely) and encouraged Daws to paddle after her bounty. However, once she got into the water she was unable to propel herself forward! Her rotund belly certainly kept her afloat without too much effort, but her arms and legs were too short and were rendered useless in that situation. Her tail being so heavy, drifted vertically down toward the bottom of the pool, acting like a huge anchor. Attempt number one scored 5/10 for not sinking due to her portly figure, but being unable to propel herself forward was unsatisfactory.
The tail had to be the key! Surely all that power must have some benefit in the water. Then the thought struck me, as I watched Daws drying her tail out by the side of the pool. She was spinning it like a huge fan! I was sure it could act as an outboard motor! Out went another basket of turnips (although she was unable to reach the first lot, she pouted until I waded in and fetched them all for her morning tea!) and into the water Daws went. This time however, with her tail spinning wildly, Daws herself spun around in tight circles on the surface of the water. So we had forward propulsion this time, but not gainfully enough to form any specific direction. Attempt number two scored 7/10.
In further trials, we tried a similar method floating on her back, but this also resulted in the same conclusion as the previous attempt. Additionally, it seems that the Meerca’s rather large ears are extremely sensitive to water and the Meerca squeal is infamous in the Battledome for a very good reason! In fact so much so, that it was imperative to cease trials for a week or two to allow my ear drums to stop thumping in my head. Following exercises were held with ear plugs firmly in place for both of us!
At this point I felt I was very close to finding out the solution to this dilemma, and ignoring Daws' pleas to the contrary, I doggedly continued to expand on my research. Amidst my determination, questions continued to be formed in my mind. What was I missing? Was this at all possible? Am I crazy for attempting this in the first place? What’s for lunch?... eh... hrm...
In the midst of this turmoil, a picture in my mind began to form. What if Daws was to submerge slightly, allowing her huge ears to remain out of the water, and allowing her tail to spin beneath the surface of the water. That was it!! A submarine was the clear and concise image that materialised in my minds eye. A submerged object with a roundish body and motor to propel that object forward, that used a periscope as its eyes and ears above the water. I was energised! I was positive that I had the answer. However, convincing Daws of this was another matter entirely.
After much enticement and promises of future favours (I’ll be buying her new toys for the next year) she conceded once more to get her feet wet for one more trial. The pressure was on and I knew that if we failed this time, my entire mission and life’s work would be down the drain (pardon the pun!) But this time success was ours. In this position, Daws was easily able to motor around the pool and scoop up her turnips (her favourite food if you haven’t already guessed) in lightning speed. Her ears remained dry and acted like a sonar to give her direction, and her powerful tail cut through the water like a knife through butter and acted at the same time as a rudder enabling her to change direction at will! Finally a score of 10/10!!
In conclusion, the results from trial number one was a success! It is possible to teach your Meerca to swim! Stay tuned for further volumes in this series when I attempt the same with other Neopets species... after some well deserved rest and relaxation (as far away from water as I can possibly be). What is the Lost Desert like at this time of year?