Sea Monkeys existed to spite any British reader of American comics throughout the 60s, 70s and 80s. Continually advertised within the pages of Marvel and DC Comics publications, these seemingly magical creatures – portrayed in the ads as humanoid creatures congregating in family groups within huge palaces, ruled by a crown-wearing king and queen – weren’t widely available in the UK until the 1990s. Then again, we didn’t know you could buy them in bulk from fishing bait suppliers…

Nevertheless, when we finally got our hands on these supposedly magical creatures our disappointment was immediate. Sea Monkeys? Sea MONKEYS!?! No. These were dehydrated brine shrimp, a crustacean capable of living for years in a state of apparent suspended animation. Admittedly, it was very clever the way they “magically” came back to life, but we had been expecting them to be at the very least three feet tall, and sit around talking to us in a curious, lilting tongue, or performing arcane rituals in our bath. Instead the biggest any of our Sea Monkeys got was about a tenth of an inch, and the most interesting thing they did was follow the beam of a torch up and down their tank. On this basis, we’ve taken to street corners to sell out of date prawn cocktails as “Space Gorillas”. But we digress…

Astonishingly, the space year 2000 marks the 40th anniversary of the Sea Monkeys phenomenon. In 1957 one Harold von Braunhut, a keen fisherman, stared into his bucket of live bait and was struck with a brainwave. Remembering the flea circuses of his youth, where other people saw a hardy crustacean brought back to life by water, Harold saw a marketing opportunity. Harold saw “Sea Monkeys”, and set about bringing his vision to a gullible world.

By 1960 von Braunhut had begun selling his “Instant Life” product through Honey Toy Industries (now the inexplicably-named, New Age-sounding Transcience Corporation) for 49 cents. Available by mail order only, through advertisements in the back of comic books, the adverts – which depicted the Sea Monkeys sitting on thrones, swimming through hoops, and generally acting like little smiling, sentient mer-people – captured the imaginations of America’s youth. However, when the Sea Monkey package arrived in the post, along with the Micro-View Ocean Zoo (the word “Micro” being a giveaway as to the precise dimensions of the average Sea Monkey), and a small envelope of dehydrated Sea Monkey eggs resembling a sachet of ground pepper, it was not uncommon for a disappointed child to break down in tears, and begin questioning the existence of Santa Claus, the Boogie Man, Jesus Christ, and other fantasy characters sold to them by grown-ups.

By the end of the 60s, Sea Monkeys had made their way into toy shops, and a merchandising phenomenon was born. Such extras included Sea Monkey “Ocean Zoos” of every size, a cardboard Sea Monkey circus (replete with audience and ticket booth), and the ultimate Sea Monkey owner accessory – the Deluxe Sea Monkey Speedway. This 1974 item was a racetrack that exploited the brine shrimp’s instinct to swim against the current, and by using angled spillways it was possible to pit your Sea Monkeys against each other in “pulse-pounding races”. The Speedway was followed by the Sea Monkey Ski Trail, Sea Monkey Cycle Race, and – most outlandishly of all – the inexplicable Sea Monkey Fox Hunt. Christ knows how that one worked. Perhaps you forced a real fox into the tank and encouraged the brine to “chase it”. Then again, in the same way that the brine were “monkeys”, maybe the “fox” was just a particle of plankton, or something.

More questionable still was the “Incredible Sea Monkey Sea Bubble”. Intended to make Sea Monkeys more appealing to girls, the Sea Bubble was a pendant in which a girl could store a live Sea Monkey (that is to say “live” until it inevitably died from the wearer’s dance floor gyrations). Its disco-era packaging dared you to: “Have fun with it! Dance with it! Date with it! It's a real aquarium for live pet Sea Monkeys! Put them in here and go, go, go!" Date with it?

No matter how big your Sea Monkeys got – and it has to be said that they never got very big – the appeal would quickly wane. There’s only so much staring at a small tank of flea-sized sea creature you can take before you flush them down the toilet. Or, as certain twisted children are known to have done, boil them alive, and mix them into their parents’ coffee.

Unlike, say, Colonel Saunders, Harold von Braunhut is apparently still alive and well. No doubt he’s busy preparing his next assault on the gullible public, selling dog shit and house flies in a box as “Astonishing Air Monsters”, or sacks of cockroaches as “Atomic Power Dragons”, maybe . Harold von Braunhut, whoever the hell you are, we salute you.

Pick the correct answers by using the drop down menus.
When you're done click submit to see your score.
If you get any wrong you will have a tick against the question
then you can try again.

1.   Sea Monkey eggs are otherwise known as what?

2. Sea Monkeys are a member of which species?

3.  How big can Sea Monkeys grow?

4. Which of these is not an essential part of any Sea Monkey kit?

5. Which of these should you do to you your Sea Monkey tank each day?


You got out of correct.

Your Score: %

This site is copyright  © Limited 1999, 2000
and its respective copyright owners, unless otherwise stated. All rights reserved.

Buy badges, shirts and more
Bubblegun Badges and more...
For the best florist in Bedford please visit April Flowers