A fatty tale

by Jasmine Ireland

Try to imagine you are diving in the deep ocean. As you go deeper, less sunlight reaches down to warm the water. You would get very, very cold, even on a hot, sunny day. When we go diving we can put on wetsuits to keep warm, or we can get out when we get too cold.

Dolphin anatomy

Click image to enlarge.

We are not the only ones who would feel the cold. Sea mammals such as dolphins would also feel cool. Unlike us, dolphins can’t leave the water or grab a warm wetsuit to swim in! God knew they would need to keep warm in the cool waters, so He built something into their bodies to keep the warmth in. Dolphins have a layer of fat, or blubber, under their skin that does just that.

God, of course, is a master planner, and He made things to do more than one thing, like our blood. It moves the nutrients we need around our bodies, and also helps keep us warm!

God has also made the blubber do more than just keep the dolphins warm! Scientists have discovered that a dolphin’s blubber helps the tail act like a spring in the water. Instead of only a dolphin’s muscles helping it swim, the fat in its tail also helps.

The dolphin swishes its tail down.

The tail pushes the water.

The blubber feels the water pushing it and bounces back like a basketball.

The blubber makes the tail bounce back up again.

Scientists think they can use this idea to make submarines move faster through the water. They are experimenting with special propellers called propulsors. They want the propulsors to work like a dolphin’s tail.

We have many objects and machines today that people have copied from God’s designs in nature. The shapes of supporting beams used to hold up buildings and bridges are designed like our bones. Also, scientists are copying gecko feet to produce super sticky tapes that can be unstuck when you no longer want the things to be stuck together. There are many, many more.

We think we are clever to design such wonderful objects and machines, but God thought of them first!


Activity
Dolphin

Get a loose–fitting rubber glove. Put the glove on your (dry) hand and put it in the cold water. Now put your bare hand in the cold water. Does the water feel as cold with the glove on? That’s like the effect of the dolphin’s skin.

Now fill the glove with warm water and put your hand in it. Some water will spill out, so you should do this over a sink or bathtub! Keep your fingers pointing down and put your hand back in the cold water, with the water–filled glove on. It does not feel as cold now, right? That’s a bit like how the blubber in the dolphin keeps it warm.

(Available in Chinese (Simplified), Chinese (Traditional) and German)
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