Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Elizabeth Mann Searches for the Rare Blue Morpho


For a year one of my dreams had been to see and film the Blue Morpho butterfly in its natural habitat. On January 13, 2010, I finally had my chance to search for one of the rarest Blue Morpho species, Morpho amathonte, in the jungles of Costa Rica. For five days I explored the jungles and climbed through waterfalls as I persevered to complete my ultimate goal. So far, I had only gotten a glance of the majestic Blue Morpho as it had glided through the rainforest canopy. Its brief appearance gave me the determination I needed to continue my search.

On my last day up in the jungles, January 16, I courageously journeyed out by myself to a river. My only form of protection was an umbrella and a whistle for my call of 911. As I entered the serene world of the Blue Morpho, I began to hear the roar of the flowing waters. The rainforest trees provided shade and the sense of protection. On this day, I deeply felt an assurance that I was going to have the chance to film the Blue Morpho. God had brought me this far and I knew that He was going to help me make it through to the end.

The environment was just right for the sighting of a Blue Morpho butterfly. I silently said a prayer before finding the perfect spot to set up my filming equipment. On the edge of the river, I found a large boulder which was level enough. As my feet dangled over the edge above the rushing water, I firmly griped my tripod and HD video camera. Now that I was fully prepared all I had to do was wait. Out of the corner of my eye I saw a fluttering brown object, but quickly realized it was only a leaf! Suddenly my heart began to quicken as a giant butterfly brilliantly decorated with iridescent blue wings glided above my head and then over the river. It was a rare Blue Morpho butterfly, the Morpho amathonte species!

My hands shook and my heart was beating rapidly as I switched on my video camera. Its giant wings were like a shimmering blue mirror that reflected the rays of sunlight. I was surprised when a second Blue Morpho came fluttering and dancing past. I felt very blessed to experience not just one, but two of the rare Morpho amathonte butterflies at the same time.  Their beauty was astounding and I suddenly felt tears filling my eyes. But I couldn’t let my emotions take over yet because my job was not complete.  I still had to climb up the river so I could get a closer view of this magnificent butterfly.

Please watch my adventure in the video below.


Once my filming was complete, I bravely decided to climb through the river so I could get closer and observe this amazing butterfly species. For this expedition I decided to take the dogs Mojo and Bamboo with me. With the dogs close by and my camera in my backpack, I began my slow and cautious journey up the river. The thick leaves in the water made it difficult to see what was in the water with me and the rocks made it slippery and treacherous. The vines above my head came to my rescue multiple times as I crawled over the rocks. In front of me the Blue Morphos beckoned me on as they fluttered and flashed their iridescent wings.

Finally I made it to the location of the river where they were flying. With my camera now in my hand I crept up on the Blue Morpho that had decided to rest (picture above). Its large brown wings blended in perfectly with the dirt, rocks, and dead leaves. The one clue of its presence was a sliver of blue wing that was now visible because a portion of its wing had been torn off. As I filmed this special moment (this video portion is in the video above at the very end), I reached out to touch it and at that moment its wings flashed open and then it flew away.

My eyes sparkled with joy and my heart skipped because on that day one of my biggest dreams had come true! Searching for the Blue Morpho strengthened my faith in God and helped me realize my passion. I had spent 5 days searching for the Blue Morpho butterfly and God led me to it and rewarded me for my efforts. I have learned to never give up on your dreams and keep pushing forward. My next goal is to live in Costa Rica so I can do butterfly research and share all my adventures with you.

Note: This discovery was the inspiration of my Blue Morpho Butterfly Dance which you can view on my YouTube Channel. 

I return to Costa Rica on March 11 and will be doing a presentation on my butterfly research at Earth University. I am another step closer to completing my next goal!

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