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Orca whales are the apex predators of the ocean.
And humpback whales might be the protectors of the ocean.
It turns out, humpback whales will go out of their way to protect smaller marine animals from orca whale attacks.
In fact, of 115 humpback-orca interventions documented, 89% were explicit rescues of non-humpback species. The other 11% were rescues of humpback calves.
Humpbacks will forgo rest, eating, and socializing to rescue others.
When I first heard this (on a Radiolab Podcast), I felt a rush of dopamine.
Mixed in was joy. A pleasant surprise. A tinge of awe.
Something I didn’t know that brings the wonder of the natural world under a magnifying glass, just for a moment.
My mind races…. “Why do humpbacks do this?” “Are humpbacks the superheroes of the ocean?” “Do other marine animals recognize this?” “Do orcas get pissed?”
Knowing I won’t get any clear answers, I pause and think, “The world is just so fucking incredible.”
There’s so much we don’t know.
When I hear things like this I can’t wait to see Annie and tell her.
“Babe, you know what I just heard/read/saw?…”
I love sharing things with her. More so than anyone else in the world.
Because she gets it. In this way we’re completely the same.
We both know and agree, there’s magic all around us, whether we’re looking for it or not.
It’s moments like these, when we exchange these awe-inspiring, brain-scrambling morsels, where, like our dogs when we show them the tennis ball in the morning, we just can’t contain ourselves.
But, “There’s no such thing as Magic.”
I’m not talking about the supernatural, Harry Potter, or anything divine.
I’m talking about the incredible nature of the planet and the people that live on it.
I’m talking about what verifiably exists, right now, in the world you and I occupy.
I’m talking about the soil underneath your feet, with its billions of microorganisms hard at work whether we watch them or not, every single day.
These organisms are responsible for decomposing any and all organic matter to make nutrients available in the soil.
These organisms, from fungi to nematodes to earthworms, are tasked with feeding the world’s plant life of which ultimately, we all depend on.
— Charles Darwin (The Formation of Vegetable Mould Through the Action of Worms With Observations on Their Habits)
I’m talking about the microscopic bacteria found on ground-level vegetation that acts as an essential binding particle in creating rain or snow.
This is how by restoring and cultivating native plant life (on which this bacteria lives), we might be able to affect our local precipitation levels.
This bacteria can literally help us make rain.
I’m talking about the people who wake up every day to consciously use their capacities and energy to leave the world better off, not because they have to, but because they couldn’t possibly not.
The magic of these very real pieces of life, makes the fantastical a bit unremarkable.
Look, or Don’t. The Show Goes On Either Way.
The world is teeming with life whether we zoom in to see it or not. There is an organization to things, people, and ecosystems that we’re just beginning to understand.
This magic is happening under our feet every second of the day.
We’re just not always paying attention.
Whether we are watching or not, humpback whales all across the oceans will come to the aid of a harbor seal under attack.
But if we are paying attention, and we happen to catch that, isn’t it incredible?
I asked Paul Hawken what advice he might offer anyone wanting to leave the world a better place than they found it, he said something to the effect of: know where you live.
You love what you know and take care of what you love.
“Discovering the beauty of the world that you inhabit…I feel like that sense of falling in love is the most important thing you can do,” says Paul.
And perhaps we take his advice. Pay attention for a second to discover what’s right around us.
Give ourselves a chance to fall in love with the magic of the world we occupy.
But then again, whether or not we take the time to witness it, the magic goes on, regardless.
“Magic Exists” is part of my series on ideas that could change the world for the better. For more thought-provoking ideas like this, read the complete list here.
- This was discovered earlier this year, as Orca whales were seen to have taken down a 70ft long blue whale. Orcas are variably 16-26 ft long depending on their sex. This was reported in NPR.
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