Photographer Mike Yip releases his newest book Vancouver Island Butterflies on Nov. 7.

Chance encounter leads to new hobby

New book explores the 70 different butterfly species that are found on Vancouver Island.

It was a chance encounter with an animal that would forever alter the course of Mike Yip’s life.

“In 2004 I spotted this weird looking duck,” Yip told the News Bulletin.

At the time, Yip was enjoying life as a retired teacher, when  he came across the odd looking duck.

“I tried to take some pictures [of the duck] with my old Pentax Spotmatic, which was just film and none of the pictures turned out,” he said. “So, I had to get a proper camera.”

Since then, Yip has become a professional photographer and the author of multiple books on birds.

On Friday (Nov. 7), Yip will release his latest book, Vancouver Island Butterflies.

The book provides scientific information about the 70 different butterfly species that can be found on the Island and also includes over 60 photographs, mostly taken by Yip.

“It’s designed for the public,” Yip said about the book. “I am not a scientist or a scientific person.”

According to Yip, Vancouver Island is home to approximately 70 different kinds of butterflies, some of which are in decline and haven’t been seen in decades.

“Nobody knows much about the butterfly and that is one of the problems,” Yip said. “There population is declining rapidly, part of it is because nobody knows anything about them.”

Yip, who has written a number of books on birds, decided to create a book on butterflies after he realized many of the species were endangered.

“At first I wanted to take pictures for my own pleasure and learn about butterflies for my own knowledge,” he said. “But then once I realized that many of the species are in endangered and a lot of the populations are declining, I thought ‘well I better do something. I better do something to create more publicity and create public awareness.’”

Vancouver Island Butterflies, which has information provided by Vancouver Island botanist James Miskelly, took two years to create and saw Yip travel thousands of kilometres throughout the Pacific region to photograph more than 50 different butterfly species.

“The beauty with butterflies is they only fly when the weather is good,” Yip said about photographing butterflies. “So you only have to get out there when the weather is nice.”

As a photographer, Yip is the kind of person who shoots first and asks questions later.

“I shoot and then look it up,” Yip said.

According to Yip, there are a few spots that are ideal for butterfly spotting in the Harbour City. One of those locations is the Nanaimo River Estuary, which is occupied by the Purplish Copper butterfly.

“They are probably one of the most beautiful and fascinating creatures on earth,” Yip said about butterflies. “Once you start discovering them, you realize that it is like a natural treasure right here in front of our eyes.”

Vancouver Island Butterflies will be available at most major book stores in Nanaimo, including Chapters at the Woodgrove Centre.

For more information please visit

arts@nanaimobulletin.comTwitter: @npescod


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