942. Water fleas
© Bruce Goodman 9 May 2016

Vyvyan had an interesting job. He worked as an industrial chemist. He was employed to develop new fragrances of car air freshener, but it was still stimulating and challenging. Just recently he had developed the fragrance of “Cucumber and Catnip”. He had one of these air fresheners in his car.

It was while developing the Cucumber and Catnip Air Freshener that he made his big discovery. New chemical usages required tests to be done on aquatic life. He knew, for example, that 3a,4,5,6,7,7a-hexahydro-4,7-methano-1H-indenyl propionate, a chemical used in his Cucumber and Catnip fragrance, was toxic to water fleas. It was while he was at a local lake gathering daphnia and other aquatic invertebrates for toxicity studies that he discovered a hitherto unknown species of water flea.

Vyvyan was shot to stardom. It’s not every day a scientist discovers a new species in his own backyard. And now – oh the excitement! – the water fleas had laid eggs. Vyvyan kept a close watch on the progress of the eggs every time he passed the lake.

There’s the lake now! Goodness! Poor Vyvyan was so intent on looking that he drove off the road and into the lake and nearly drowned. The car was submerged. He managed to escape through the car window.

But the air freshener! The Cucumber and Catnip Air Freshener contained 3a,4,5,6,7,7a-hexahydro-4,7-methano-1H-indenyl propionate that was toxic to the newly discovered water flea! Vyvyan reached into the car and grabbed the sachet of air freshener. He made it to shore! He held high the lethal Cucumber and Catnip Air Freshener sachet. He had saved himself and the rare water fleas!

The funeral for the others in the car, his drowned wife and two young daughters, is next Friday.

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