Monday, May 28, 2012

Whales and Butterflies!

by My Anonymous Friend

Seems like the past month or so has been one huge adventure after another for us. This past week my sister, brother, and sister-in-law joined us for several days in Victoria, BC's capital city on Vancouver Island. While there we enjoyed the incredible beauty of mountains, ocean, flowers, and forests. In addition, we toured a butterfly garden and enjoyed a whale watching expedition. Hence the title and the pictures above.

I could not help but marvel at the beauty of God's creation. So today my wish is to share just a few details of what I firmly believe is the work of God. I simply do not have the faith to believe that somehow a big bang at some point in history, followed by years and years of evolution, could produce the intricacies and fascinating composition of what we observed. Let me start with butterflies.

In our visit to the butterfly place we were bombarded with facts and details about these amazing creatures. I will share just a few.

1. Butterfly eggs are laid on leaves attached by a glue so powerful that science has yet to understand it all together. The egg stage may last only a few weeks but in some cases eggs are dormant over winter and hatch in spring. In other instances eggs can remain dormant for several years without hatching until weather or moisture conditions are favorable. What man-made creation can lie around for several years without at least some deterioration?

2. Butterfly wings fascinate me. In the larva stage the little wing discs are very small and a trachea forms a sort of wing vein. Initially the wings are very flexible but within just minutes they harden dramatically and are powerfully attached to the body of what will momentarily become a fully developed butterfly. The garden we visited provided microscopes so visitors could examine the intricate wings more closely.

3. Life span. Butterflies may live only a few days although some species live as long as a year. Thus the cycle of life and death is endlessly repeated.

I could go on and on, but I am not a lepidopterist (person who studies butterflies) and few who read this are either. My intent is simply to give a sampler of how intricately and fascinatingly nature has been created.

Now let me quickly move to whales. What a contrast!

There are various types of whales of course, and the ones we viewed are known as Orcas or killer whales. I was impressed that our guide seemed to know the names of the several families or pods of whales that inhabit the area between the state of Washington and Vancouver Island. He even seemed to recognize specific whales by their antics and swimming patterns. Apparently there are resident whales as well as transient pods of whales. Our first sighting of a whale was when a dorsal fin (over 6 feet in length) broke the surface of the water. Sometimes that is all we saw while at other times the whales rose up out of the water revealing their giant black and white bodies. The whales we saw were about 20 feet in length and our guide compared them in weight to a school bus. Imagine such a vehicle rising from the water and then crashing back into the ocean again. What a picture! These whales are among the fastest marine mammals, reaching speeds up to 55 kph (30-35 mph). The pods we followed cruised along at a more leisurely pace. Baby whales weigh up to 400 lbs at birth, and adult whales eat about 300 poinds of food (mostly salmon) per day.

I came away from these wonderful experineces basking in the pleasure that I am personally related to the God Who designed all these marvellous creations. What a great God! My intent in sharing all this today is to encourage you also to look about you and realize how amazingly beautiful and intricate the world around us is.

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