No one puts on a show like Mother Nature. Yesterday afternoon on the beautiful Gulf of Mexico, Ted and I were treated to a more than three-hour performance by the best she had to offer. We were fishing and happily catching lots of different “things” from the Gulf. I’ve always said the best part of fishing the Gulf is not knowing what might be on the end of that line when you feel a strong tug, work the catch, and finally see it break water. It could be a beautiful silver fish, some with bright colors glowing in the sun.
In yesterday’s inventory, we caught three blacktip sharks, all of which were carefully taken off the hook and thrown back into the glimmering water. We also caught ocean trout, which are beautiful fish; ocean cats, which are very ugly; gafftopsail catfish, which to me are frightening because of the stinger; and croaker, which really do croak loudly.
I’m not frightened at all of water and could spend my life on it, I believe, but I do try to remain cautious and sensitive to where we are, the wind speed, other boaters, and the condition of our boat. I also check on the bait, the rods and reels, the food we pack to take and most importantly, the iced cooler filled with soft drinks, water and lemonade.
Yesterday, we were catching fish so quickly that I stayed busy on my end of the boat and he on his. He said, “Look,” and he pointed to a large grouping of the big brown pelicans, which make all waters off of the Bolivar Peninsula home. These are huge birds. In open flight their wingspans can reach 5 or 6 feet. I have been fascinated watching them dive from high in the air straight down into the water, grab a fish quickly from the water, and rise again carrying it in their big beaks. One would think that they would break their necks hitting the water so hard, but they don’t. They simply fly back up in the air or sit quietly on the surface eating their catch.
Several pelicans were diving near us and bringing us sizable fish. The strange thing was that with each of the 13 pelicans I counted in that one group, a small gray and white seagull seemed to be its mate or partner. It was so funny and a spectacle I’d never noticed before while out on the water. The seagull would hover nearby and as soon as the giant pelican would dive and get a fish, the smaller bird would fly quickly and sit right on the pelican’s head, like it was a heliport or landing spot. The gulls in each case would sit quietly and very still while the pelican took the first bites of the fish and then the smaller bird seemed to share in what was left. We could see them clearly from our boat all around us.
The gull would nibble or grab from either side of the pelican’s pouch and take whatever the hunter allowed him to have. This went on for hours while we fished in the same spot where we were catching. When the birds moved on, still together in their strange and unusual partnerships, I kept telling Ted, “There is a story here. What if humans could learn to coexist like these birds are doing?”
The gulls probably had little chance of snagging the good fish that the pelicans seemed so adept at finding and eating, but by hanging on to their partner, they ate well, too. Now, I am not suggesting that all humans form a communal environment and share everything in life, but I am saying that it would be good and healthy for us to help each other more. If one has good food and has more than they need, let’s share it with those who have little or none. If we know where good bargains or helpful findings are, let’s tell our friends quickly so that they can profit, too. Look out for each other, take better care of each other, and enjoy what life has to offer. I am convinced that we can learn many good things from God’s creations in their own habitat.
What a show of nature we enjoyed yesterday, and it was all for the watching, and hopefully, learning. Happy Fourth of July to our readers. Be safe and share the holiday spirit with others. Get out and enjoy some nature nearby.
Brenda Cannon Henley is an award-winning journalist and writer living on the Southeast Texas Gulf Coast. Having enjoyed more than four decades in ministry, Brenda shares her columns with our readers and works with churches and faith-based programs nationwide. She can be reached at (409) 781-8788.