This exquisite monarch butterfly transformed herself from a caterpillar in just 2 weeks!!
Silently she slid from her chrysalis, wings crumpled and folded. Her fat abdomen pumped fluid into her wings which imperceptibly unfolded and expanded. Feeling her way into the world as a transformed being she stayed adjusting to her new life for a couple of hours before her maiden flight.
Up over my head she flew and I imagined her reveling in her new found freedom – wow!! What a thrill – bouncing on the gentle air currents she circled, floating back past me in a gesture that I felt was full of gratitude!
Having watched over her from caterpillar to chrysalis to butterfly – I was thrilled!
The wisdom of Gaia emerges from billions of years of Life – we are a part of this Life, but our behaviour does not appear to reflect this reality!
This post is one example of the beauty and complexity and that we are surrounded by and I feel it is a salient reminder to us to start managing ourselves and stop trying to manage Gaia.
“The birds keep taking ‘my’ monarch caterpillars.” I lamented to a visiting friend and showed her the empty swan plant.
“One minute they’re all fat and juicy looking and the next minute they’ve vanished! I’m going to cover the plant to stop the wretched birds taking them!”
That was the moment when I learnt that my intention would have been interfering in one of Nature’s incredible acts of transformation. The caterpillars purposefully leave their swan plant home that has sustained them from miniscule pearly white egg, to two inch yellow and black striped caterpillar, to find the perfect spot for their extraordinary metamorphosis into the beautiful monarch butterfly.
Enlightened, I got down on my hands and knees and started scouring the vegie patch beside the swan plants. Carefully turning over leaves, peering through the rambling tomatoes and beans I was disappointed to find nothing and couldn’t shake my initial bad feelings towards the bird population!
A day passed. It was lunch time. I headed out to the vegie patch. Bending down to cut some garlic chives I stopped in amazement …. dangling from one of the long, thin leaves was a chrysalis!
“I’ve found one! I’ve found one!”
I became obsessed. I wanted to see how this transformation had taken place. Googling monarch butterflies I became gripped. I was David Attenborough. I was also the cameraman. I had to see it happening for myself. With three fat and juicy caterpillars looking likely candidates my obsession played out.
Caterpillars are surprisingly fast movers. If I left them for more than a few minutes it was challenging to find them again. They were obsessed with finding the perfect pupating place. I was obsessed with seeing them pupate! I decided to interfer with Mother Nature – just a little bit – to make it easier for them and me! Selecting one who had rejected the vegie patch and set off across the grass I strategically placed an old wire basked in front of her. Climbing aboard, she examined it thoroughly and initially decided against its suitability. Bother… but I can be persistent and with another strategic positioning, the basket got the ‘thumbs up’. Now I could relax and thrill to the utterly extraordinary process of a caterpillar transforming herself firstly into a pupa/chrysalis and eventually a monarch butterfly. And what an effort it is!
The site had to be thoroughly examined and experienced before she wove a solid white knob of silk and clung to it with her last set of claspers. Motionless for about 24hrs, during which I think she was preparing herself for the massive process she was about to go through. Her next move was to curl head down into a J shape.
Once settled like this it was roughly 24 hours before I could see any outward signs of change. Firstly her long antenae started to crumple and the bend of the J turned an imperceptible shade of pale green.
At this point I made a ‘fatal’ mistake! I decided to nip inside for breakfast….. oh no! how ignorant I was of their timings. When I came back out about 45 mins later half the chrysalis was formed… Darn it! I so wanted to see the beginnings of the process.
Ah well – I watched as she twisted and turned, a miniature green ‘sleeping bag’ suspended by a gossamer thread writhing and wriggling to sluff off her caterpillar skin. It eventually fell to the ground – tiny black crumpled remains of a life lived as a caterpillar. The wriggling slowed and I watched in awe of the delicate jade chrysalis decorated with gold dots and attached to the white silk knob by a 2mm jet black thread.
I was determined to experience the final marvel – a monarch butterfly emerge from this exquisitely beautiful jewel. I left her to settle in for a couple of days before carefully carrying the wire basket into our porch and placing it gently on a table out of harms way, where I could keep an eye on her progress.
She’s subsequently been joined by another jewel hanging from a different basket.
Reflecting on what I’ve done I recognised our insatiable desire to manage. I would appear that our species has decided that it’s OK for us to manage the planet. But … she’s been around for billions of years happily and extremely effectively managing herself; we are so young and as yet haven’t even learnt to manage ourselves in a manner that is acceptable to planetary health…
“Nearer and nearer draws the time……” The time when we experience for real the emergence of a monarch butterfly from her chrysalis in our garden! The jade green chrysalis is now rapidly getting darker and darker!!
I noticed the change in colour first thing this morning ….. and have been checking her frequently all day. Apparently this darkening happens about 24 hrs prior to her emergence!!! And even more exciting is that the chrysalis becomes transparent so you can see her wings! Oh my goodness!
As they favour first thing in the morning to emerge I’ll be up at ‘crack of sparrows’ tomorrow (Monday 21st Jan), camera in hand. Full moon tonight – how appropriate for this final dramatic act to be played out. It hasn’t even been two weeks ….
What I ignorantly thought was a crack appearing turned out to be the chrysalis expanding to accommodate the ready to emerge butterfly!
And next I made my second stupid mistake!! I went inside for 20 mins to charge my phone and post updates, thinking everyone would like to experience the miracle in real time…. raced back out…..
MISSED IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! What a joke!!! Sucked in by our addiction to social media.
Humbled by Gaia and her lesson to stay present with real life!
Regardless, the monarch butterfly was absolutely exquisite – her markings are divinely beautiful – and only 10 days ago she was a black and yellow striped caterpillar. I stared transfixed by her delicate markings – azure blue legs, velvety black body with brilliant white markings, powdery orange wing patches bordered with black and speckled with white dots.
Distracted by a movement out of the corner of my eye … I looked left and … oh my goodness what do I see but another monarch!!! Barely 20cm away another one had emerged and was making her way up an eggplant leaf… the irony of it!! How I laughed!! So focused on the one, I was oblivious to what was going on around me.
So – the magic moment of emergence will have to wait. But the good news is that we have two more chrysalis in the garden and two hanging in the porch from the wire baskets… so if I can stay focused there is still a chance to catch that private moment of emergence.
Gaia’s wisdom and magic remains a mystery. And that’s fine. We are privileged to be a part of her and to live within her embrace.
In the last week of November we had our last in-water session with yr 6 at Ngunguru School. We feel privileged to have had this year group who have enthusiastically embraced the Hauora Moana monitoring of the Ngunguru Estuary outside their school.
Again it was surprisingly warm and we got carried along by the incoming tide, snorkeling over the Te Maika reef area and cockle beds.
Triplefin and feeding cockle
Neptune’s Necklace – Hormosira banksii
The kids are very used to the consensus process now and agreement between the 4 groups averaged out at a very accurate assessment of the health of the area.
We are very grateful to the school, RIck Sayer, Quinton Rahui and Eden Ford for their support and enthusiasm enabling Ocean Spirit to continue working with Yr 6 into the future.
We traveled down to Auckland on Friday in Moana-iti, our electric Nissan Leaf (with 3 charging stops) to give a presentation on the SeaBin Project to Island Cruising NZ at the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron. There was a lot of interest in the plastic issue with many possible solutions being discussed…. we feel there are many approaches to be made at every level to tackle this momentous issue and almost all are fueled by grassroots movements. Absolutely everyone is responsible, which means that absolutely everyone can make a difference.
We are very happy to be working with Ngunguru Primary School, monitoring the health of the Ngunguru Estuary under our Hauora Moana Initiative. We started the Hauora Moana Initiative in the school earlier this year and the kids have enthusiastically embraced it
The estuary is on their doorstep….
Using a qualitative methodology, which has evolved from Glenn’s Master’s thesis, we snorkeled with yr 6 in a small area on the north side of the estuary off the Red Rocks channel marker. Working in pairs they made their intuitive assessment and then came together in groups to reach a consensus about what the area was telling them in terms of its health.
Back in the classroom everyone came to an agreement on the area only being about 1/2 as healthy as it could be.
This programme is an on-going part of yr 6’s timetable throughout the year.
Glenn and Janey are just back from presenting a workshop at this conference. It’s a fabulous venue just inland from the Tutukaka Coast, entirely outdoors and under canvas. Our workshop was about water – Water is Life and Life is Water.
“Ninety-nine percent of the molecules in every cell of our bodies are water molecules: we are water beings within an Ocean World. Water is the animating force of the living breathing world we inhabit. Reconnecting our conscious awareness with this reality is the best antidote we can give ourselves to the modern way of being in the world.”
We tuned into a small creek running through The Wild Woods venue – asking her how healthy she felt. Delegates were surprised by the responses they felt – awakening their intuition and tapping into the deeper field of universal communication.
Another article in the NZ Herald!! This time it’s about our Seabin – the 1st in NZ that’s coming to Tutukaka Marina thanks to Ocean Spirit, The Marina, Huanui College Interact Club and the Whangarei City Rotary Club! What a fantastic collaborative effort.
13 March 2018
Glenn gets interviewed by the NZ Herald.
Check out this link to the article in the He Tangata section on 13 March.
NZ National Seaweek and Ocean Spirit teamed up with Debris Free NZ & Sup Pro Paddle Boarding NZ for a community beach clean at Sandy Bay on the Tutukaka Coast. We enjoyed a beautiful afternoon ‘sweeping’ the beach with an awesome team of enthusiastic locals! The kids took a lot of care shifting through the seaweed and sand for micro-plastics – the very small bits of plastic – which in the ocean can be ingested by sea creatures and sea birds, filling their guts with toxic plastics resulting in their deaths.
We had a fantastic day at the Volvo Ocean Race Village in Auckland last week with Lucy Hunt and Robin Clegg who are behind the Ocean Plastic Education Programme for the race. We saw our 1st Seabin in action and sifted through the contents – lots of small fragments of plastic, plastic nurdles, food wrappers etc mixed in with shrimps, sea grass, mangroves seeds etc.
We came away even more motivated and enthusiastic!
We all love our beaches! Keeping them free of our rubbish helps the Ocean stay healthy and makes her a safer home for all beings who live within her watery embrace.
Sandy Bay, Tutukaka Coast – community beach clean during National NZ Seaweek
Waitangi Day celebrations at the Waiting Treaty Grounds – Feb 6th 2018
Once again a place of coming together to honour Te Tiriti o Waitangi, and once again a small but dedicated team of volunteers were there to sort waste into recyclable, compostable and landfill streams. Organised by CBEC EcoSolutions.
Ocean Spirit is thrilled to be the catalyst for getting the first Seabin to New Zealand!
“WE HAVE RUBBISH BINS ON LAND, WHY NOT HAVE THEM IN THE OCEAN?”
The Tutukaka Coast continues to play its part in the growing worldwide awareness of the need to change our relationship with plastic.
The culmination of a two year collaboration between Ocean Spirit, Tutukaka Marina Management and Trust Board, the Interact Club at Huanui College, Glenbervie and Whangarei City Rotary Club represents another valuable step in the Tutukaka Coast Plastic Free Initiative.
Made financially possible by the phenomenal fundraising efforts of the Interact Club students at Huanui College and by sponsorship from the Whangarei City Rotary Club, Tutukaka will receive the first Seabin to be installed in a New Zealand marina.
Students Pippa Benton and Lagi Paul, the Interact Club organisers, were so inspired by a presentation given to Huanui College in 2017 by Ocean Spirit, that they committed to fundraising for the Tutukaka Seabin. Supported by Whangarei City Rotary Club, the target was achieved in November last year and the order placed.
Pippa has chosen the Seabin as her science project for the 2018 National Secondary Schools Science Fair. She plans to monitor the Tutukaka Marina Seabin’s activity, conducting a regular weekly survey of its contents. Pippa is passionate about the ocean and is a keen diver. This is a wonderful educational opportunity for her and for The Seabin Project, who are committed to education as the most effective long term solution to ocean pollution.
What’s a Seabin?
A rubbish bin that sucks in floating marine litter, micro plastics, surface oil and pollutant spills.
Moving up and down with the tide, it sucks in water, catches any floating rubbish in a catch bag and pumps pollution-free water back into the marina.
It can trap roughly 1.5kgs of floating debris per day (depending on weather and debris volumes), including micro plastics down to 2mm small.
Five years of research and development have gone into its design
It evolved from a passion for the ocean held by two avid surfers, Andrew Turton and Pete Ceglinski, who quit their jobs to develop it.
December 2017 / January 2018
Ocean Blessings for the 2018 Season to all our Friends!
Woolleys Bay, Tutukaka Coast, NZ
Here’s a series of videos from our favourite local beach, Woolleys Bay – just picking up any rubbish that shouldn’t be there and enjoying the Ocean!
The Natural Phenomena Conference over the weekend of 17 – 19 November was truly phenomenal! The quality of the presenters, keynote speakers and organisational team was exceptional… It took place in a sacred and beautiful space surrounded by wise old trees, under canvas in absolutely pouring rain!!! Everyone’s spirits stayed surprisingly high kept up by the camaraderie and utterly yummy food supplied in abundance by a local restaurant, Wahi Bar in Tutukaka! Vegans and vegetarians equally catered for.
Ocean Spirit ran a workshop – bringing the Ocean to the conference – helped by the rain!
It was a single use plastic free conference – the delegate bags were Boomerang bags all sewn by the committee and included hand made pottery mugs, metal straws, bamboo toothbrushes and handmade produce bags.. an incredible effort!
When we launched the Tutukaka Coast Plastic Free Initiative at the beginning of this year we had no idea where the journey would take us. It just felt like the right thing to do. Ten months later and so much has sprouted from that one little ‘idea seed’.
Many little ‘plastic free’ seedlings have taken root and are sprouting up along the Tutukaka Coast. Some have blown farther afield to flourish in homes across the world.
We don’t always get to hear about the fruits which are being enjoyed by people and communities, but one that we are immensely blessed to be able to share in, is the journey of the home school families from Kaeo, Northland. For 6 months we supported their science project to see if so-called compostable takeaway coffee cups really do compost in a home compost bin. They won a gold in the annual school Science Fair for Northland! Their creativity has now blossomed into making Boomerang Bags and yesterday they drove down to visit us and handed over 4 of their bags! They are a work of art and we now get to experience the joy of carrying our shopping around in beautiful bags made with love and laughter!
Bag Ingredients = heaps of fun, buckets of learning, cupfulls of creativity, dollops of imagination and the coming together of community.
What started as a project with the coffee cups has grown into Plastic Free Kaeo involving people in caring for their community and their surroundings..
The Tutukaka Coast Plastic Free seed has been a catalyst of inspiration for initiatives such as this and we feel incredibly blessed to be a part of the on-going support which strengthens the roots and enables the projects to grow on their own.
Whilst we are still supporting these initiatives to build their own momentum, we feel we are now able to devote some more of our time and energy towards other projects dear to our hearts such as – The Reef Guardian Programme and 3D Ocean Permaculture.
During the weekend of 17th – 19th November Ocean Spirit will be presenting at the Natural Phenomena Conference 2017. Organised by the Nature Education Network, this unique tented conference is run in the outdoors. Suitable for just about anyone who is passionate about re-connecting with our roots on Papatuanuku. Attendees include educators, parents, playscape designers, academics, artists, policy makers who believe nature is a powerful teacher.
In 2008 we were living in the Kingdom of Tonga running a diving and whale watching operation. Our base was on Foa in the Ha’apai group of islands.
Life was busy. But we were often reminded by our dog friend, Skupors, to slow down and enjoy life. A tropical island girl through and through she came into our lives at 6 weeks old and swam, kayaked, whale watched, ran in the bush and beach walked with us.
When we left in 2010 leaving her behind wasn’t an option – even though our rational minds said, “too difficult” our hearts said, “no way!.” Landing in New Zealand as an immigrant her life changed dramatically. “We took the dog out of Tonga, but you can’t take Tonga out of the dog.” Her spiritual home is still the beach and her foraging skills are unsurpassed!
Skupors is an integral part of Ocean Spirit and as we deepen our relationship with all of life, so our connection with her deepens. Relationships are at the very heart of Life, connecting us to the wider consciousness, to the seen and unseen world we are deeply embedded in.
Underpinning our whole way of being is our belief that all life has intrinsic value beyond what it offers mankind and :
It is not our right to interfere in the lives of other species,
But when our paths cross
It is our duty to behave in such a way
That we do no harm.
In support of International Plastic Free July, The Ocean is Alive is available until 10th July on Amazon at the following special prices:
Amazon.com US$12.00 paperback / US$1.99 Kindle
Amazon.co.uk £9.34 paperback / £1.99 Kindle
amazon.co.eu Euros 11.36 paperback
If you live in New Zealand, the paperback is available for the whole of July at the special price of: NZ$25.00 + $5p&p, direct from us. Please email us: email@example.com
“… The Ocean Is Alive is first and foremost a celebration of the Ocean in all her living splendour. It takes the reader on a fascinating and informative voyage of discovery into the blue heart our planet, from the Ocean’s formation more than four billion years ago and the emergence of life deep below her surface, to the incredible diversity and exuberance we know today. But much more than this, it is a journey of discovery into Ocean consciousness: through the evolution of the senses, the emergence of sentient behaviour, and finally an intriguing exploration of what the author calls ‘Ocean Mind’.