Beautiful Creatures – Flying Fish

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In order to glide out of the water, a flying fish (Latin name “exocoetus”) swishes its tail to up to 50-70 times per second,which “vibrates” to produce enough speed to burst through the surface. It then spreads its pectorial fins and tilts them slightly upwards to lift itself to glide through the air. This permits it to sail above the ocean’s surface where it can at travel at 70km per mile. The fish is able to increase its time in the air by travelling against or at an angle to the direction of updrafts created by a combination of aircurrents in which the “wings” flutter due to the wind with a maximum glide time recorded to be 30 seconds. At the end of a glide, a flying fish folds up its pectoral fins which have been acting as “wings” to re-enter the sea or drops the lower end its tail into the water where it “vibrates” the lower part of its tail to allow its body to reaccelerate and change direction, providing the thrust to lift itself for another glide.

In 1900 to 1930s flying fish were studied as possible models used to develop airplanes.  There are about 50 species grouped in seven to nine genera. Flying fish are found in all of the major oceans, particularly in the warm tropical and subtropical waters of the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian oceans.  Historically the country of Barbados was nicknamed as “The land of the Flying fish”. Today it remains the official national fish for the country and it was in the Caribbean that I first saw them.  I looked down from a deck  above the bridge of a cruise ship and for a moment wondered why the captain was playing with paper airplanes! Then I realized who they were and spent a wonderful afternoon watching them ride and play enjoying the updrafts caused by the ship as we sailed passed Dominica!

Beautiful Thought – Tatanka Beat

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Thunder
Thunder
Little Brother
Do you hear them
Drumming deeply
They are coming
Little Brother
To reclaim
Their holy land
Thunder
Thunder
Little Brother
Ancient herds
Are drumming deeply
And your gentle
Feathered Brother
Leads them onward
Take my hand
You can follow
Little Brother
Herd and tribe
Are one again
Thunder
Thunder
Little Brother
Heart of beast
And soul of man

Beautiful Phenomena – the Black Pearl of Great Price

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For thousands of years, most seawater pearls were retrieved by divers working in the Indian Ocean  in areas like the Persian Gulf, the Red Sea, and in the Gulf of Mannar. Starting in the Han Dynasty (206 BC – 220 AD), the Chinese hunted extensively for seawater pearls in the South China Sea. When Spanish conquistadors arrived in the Americas, they discovered that around the islands of Cubagua and Margarita, some 200 km north of the Venezuelan coast, was an extensive pearl bed.

One discovered and named pearl, La Peregrina, was offered to the Spanish queen.   According to Garcilasso de la Vega, who says that he saw La Peregrina at Seville in 1507,  it was found at Panama in 1560 by a black slve who was rewarded with his liberty, and his owner with the office of alcalde of Panama.

Black pearls, frequently referred to as Black Tahitian Pearls, are highly valued because of their rarity; the culturing process for them dictates a smaller volume output and can never be mass produced. This is due to bad health and/or non-survival of the process, rejection of the nucleus and their sensitivity to changing climatic and ocean conditions. Before the days of cultured pearls, black pearls were rare and highly valued for the simple reason that white pearl oysters rarely produced naturally black pearls, and black pearl oysters rarely produced any natural pearls at all.

In a Christian New Testament parable, Jesus compared the Kingdom of Heaven to a  “pearl of great price”  in Matthew 13: 45-46. “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls: who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it.”

The language of symbolism was in common use around the time of Jesus Christ; most people were familiar with the symbolic meanings. The circle is a symbol of God because it has no beginning and no end. The circle or pearl was considered to represent Love and Knowledge.  The combination of equal amounts of Love and Knowledge is a symbol of Wisdom; the 2 circles intertwined – owl eyes – is symbolic of Wisdom. Some other pearls are Truth, and Faith.  Pearls are also important in Hebrew, Islamic and Hindu scriptures – the  Ayurveda contains references to pearl powder as a stimulant of digestion and to treat mental ailments.

Beautiful Creatures – The White Peacock

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Some people believe that to see a white peacock will bring eternal happiness.  Woven into the myths and belief systems of cultures worldwide, the peacock presents itself through the sciences of alchemy and Roman astrology, the religions of Islam and Christianity, as well as in Egyptian, Chinese, and Indian cultures. Through the peacock’s 100 feathery eyes, the Chinese Goddess of Compassion, Kuan Yin, is able to watch over and guard all living things on Earth.

“Peacocks are symbols of beauty, reminding us to take pleasure in life.
The peacock is pure of heart.”
– Constantine

The White Peacock is a creature of the light.  Blue Peacocks get most of their color from light reflection rather than a dye.  The feathers have barbs, which in turn have rods.  It is these rods that controls how light reflects and produces the green, golden yellow, brown and bright blue.  White peacocks have a slightly different arrangement of the rods thus don’t develop the usual colors.

The White Peacock is also the first novel by D. H. Lawrence – one that he found himself compelled to write and rewrite, to pour himself into, in order to prove himself to himself. Begun when he was 21 and published in 1911, it shows many of Lawrence’s major themes.

Beautiful Creatures – the Caracal

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The caracal (Caracal caracal) is a fiercely territorial medium-sized cat ranging over the Middle East and Africa. The word caracal comes from the Turkish word “karakulak”, meaning “black ear”. Although it has traditionally had the alternative names Persian Lynx and African Lynx, the caracal is a form of African Lynx or “The African Golden Cat” . Its ears, which it uses to locate prey are controlled by 20 different muscles. The caracal is classified as a small cat, yet is amongst the heaviest of all small cats, as well as the quickest, being nearly as fast as the serval.  North African populations are disappearing, but caracals are still abundant in other African regions. Their range limits are the Saharan desert and the equatorial forest belt of Western and Central Africa. In South Africa and Namibia, C. caracal is so numerous that it is exterminated as a nuisance animal. Asiatic populations are less dense than those of Africa and Asiatic populations are of greater concern