My daughters love the sea, and all that is in it, both mammals and fish.
This is due in part to the once weekly trips we used to make to Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium which has an amazing shark tank, as well as touch tanks (one finger and no picking up that starfish), seahorses, walruses, seals, and other amazing creatures. We know the walruses "names" and have watched each fish tank get fed. My daughters have been to "under the sea" zoo camps, and stood above the shark tank and watched the marine biologists feed the sharks individually (with a pole, not by hand). It's true that they love the other animals there too, especially the elephants, the tigers, and the leopards.
However, my oldest daughter's two unwavering fascinations are: marine life, and dance.
My youngest daughter's unwavering fascinations are: marine life, cats (especially tigers), and dance.
On some days, dance is number one. On other days, marine life wins out. It depends.
My oldest daughter can, and has, sat for 90 minutes in front of the full window shark tank at the zoo and aquarium, watching the behavior of the sharks and how it changes when there are more people in the room, and less. She has even taken notes on which sharks are "friendlier" and which aren't. Her biggest dream of all time has been swimming with sharks. When she first asked if that was possible, I nearly had a panic attack right then and there. My baby? With sharks? And would I go with her? No, no, no.
My youngest daughter will watch the tropical fish tank, the sharks, and used to watch the belugas (they are no longer at our zoo) for long periods of time, again, noticing behaviors and talking about them afterwards. She has wanted to snorkel with fish, swim with dolphins and sharks, and get under the sea for a long time now.
I blame this all on Disney:
Just kidding. I have encouraged their interests, knowing that passion and perserverance need to be honored, and feeling that the care of God's creatures is a part of what God has wanted us to do since the beginning in the garden of Eden. I have also seen ways that people can share their faith in Christ while caring for God's creatures.
On our Hawai'i trip we have made many of their dreams come true (or at least for the "first" time). We have snorkeled at night with manta rays. We have cage-dived/snorkeled with Galapagos sharks. We have body surfed with a sea turtle, and watched one come ashore and eat. We have stated again and again, how amazing God's imagination and creation is, as we have had these experiences. And guess what, here in Hawai'i, we've found that others agree with us. (where we live, people just give us strange looks and give us "Jesus Freaks" wide berth)
My husband would like to help our daughters learn to scuba dive. He learned in the Navy. I don't think I will ever do that, due to a problem with my ear drums. I have an ear drum that has broken open several times now, and diving deep would probably break it again. However, I am thankful that I can snorkel with my daughters, and that I have gotten over 99% of my fear of the water with their interest pushing me out of my comfort zone.
So here, are some of the amazing blessings that I have seen under the sea or in aquariums: (If I don't name your favorite sea creature, feel free to add to my list in the comment section)
1. Manta Rays
2. Galapagos sharks
3. Sea Turtles
6. Crabs, especially the hermit crabs.
8. Jellyfish - from a distance, they are beautiful to see - or at least from a seated position in a canoe. We don't like being in the water with them.
9. Sea Cucumbers
10. Octopus (Octopi)
13. Whale Sharks - I've never seen one personally, but they are amazing.
14. Orcas - seen them up close in the wild - they prefer kayakers to speed boat whale watch groups that chase them.
15. Sea stars, especially the purple ones found on the Puget Sound, and Northwest Coastline.
16. Barnacles are fun to look at, but not touch.
18. Sand Dollars
19. Clams and Mussels
20. Krill and plankton, the sustaining food of the ocean.
"And God said, 'Let the water teem with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the vault of the sky.' So God created the great creatures of the sea and every living thing with which the water teems and that moves about in it, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. God blessed them and said, 'Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the water in the seas, and let the birds increase on the earth.'"