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Whales Tohora: Thoughts about Whales and Ultimate Reality

No photography, no eating, no drinking, and no swearing.

That notice was posted throughout the Whales Tohora exhibit which included skeletons of stranded whales donated by the Maori of New Zealand.  The Maori had requested that, in keeping with their spiritual practices, there would be no photography or swearing in the exhibition.

I had not ever expected to feel any kinship with the Maori.  Like them, however, I acknowledge that there’s much more to life than we can see, and that what people do and say matters in a deeply fundamental way.  There’s a whole universe of reality behind the material world that Western society accepts, and words spoken carelessly are still intensely meaningful.  This is concept that many in our society do not grasp.  (Of course Maori worship is directly opposed to Christianity, but I’m talking here of materialism versus reality, and in that we agree.)

On the other hand, God created those whales.  While we cannot understand what’s behind them, we can praise God by being interested in the whales themselves and learning about them.  And, wow, are they ever amazing!

  • They are so huge, and actually seeing the skeletons makes their size so much more real than the standard comparisons of a whale and a bus.
  • The skeleton of a 60-something year old sperm whale even showed ribs that had at one time been broken, but had healed!
  • These whales have sonar systems that far more complex and subtle than those man can make.  They are nothing short of incredible.
  • The many skeletons we saw show that whales are designed so intricately, on both a colossal and minute scale, as to boggle the mind.
  • We learned about whale strandings, whaling, whale research, and how the Maori relate to whales.
  • We discovered that the ‘whalebone’ used in corsets was actually baleen, the material some whales used to filter food out of the water.
  • We saw some of the intricate artwork made out of a whale’s real bones, treasures and tokens which reminded me in a rather chilling way of the Wambu trilogy.
  • We learned about whale riding and how whales are tagged.
  • We played all sorts of interactive computer games about whales and watched video after video.
  • Most amazing of all, however, is how very little we know about whales.  These huge animals are hard to track because they roam all over the oceans, following the instincts God have given them.

And when we had learned all this, we were blessed to have a God to thank for making such miraculous creatures.  We do not believe in the soul-destroying idea that whales, and all other living things, evolved from lifeless groups of molecules.  Nor do we worship the whale itself, with all the accompanying spirits and demons of Maori religions.  Instead we can thank our triune God: Creator Father, Savior Jesus, and Comforter Holy Spirit.

At the Whales Tohora exhibition at the Canadian Nature Museum, we learned a lot about whales. However, those little signs prohibiting photography, eating, drinking, and swearing transformed a mundane homeschool field trip into something extraordinary.

You can view many of the videos of the Whales Tohora Exhibition online.

Entered in the Carnival of Homeschooling.  For other inspiration, see No Ordinary Blog Hop, Encourage One Another Wednesday,and Women Living Well Wednesdays


  1. JoAnn says:

    That is some interesting information about whales. Glad you got to go to the museum and see it all. 🙂

  2. Jenn4him says:

    I’ve never heard of this exhibit. Seems like it would be quite a wonderful thing to see and process. I love how you transformed the experience!

  3. Diane says:

    I do thank Him. Every day. For the beauties of the world around us. Ror the animals and vegetation and sunshine and rain. thank you for this informative, insightful post! I learned many new things from it! Thanks for sharing on NOBH!

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