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Thursday, November 10, 2011
TAGGING ANIMALS, SCIENCE OR FUN?
SCIENCE OR FUN?
This post may get me in trouble, particularly with my brilliant Marine Biologist nephew Jimmy. Keep in mind my scientific friends, that I am just a knucklehead spouting opinions with very little knowledge to back them up, and very few readers to give a rat’s butt.
OK, here is where I am going to get in trouble. Who the fuck really cares about the narwhale?
I read in the news today that scientists have figured a way to attach tracking devices on the elusive narwhale. The narwhale, unknown to me before this article, is a large mammal with a six foot horn. It is sometimes called the unicorn of the sea.
It is the same for all these tracking animal exercises.“It is important that we know the where and when the Blah Blah Blah travels, when he breeds and what he feeds on so we can more fully understand the ecology of the world and assure these beautiful creatures thrive in order to assure the balance of nature and prevent the end of the world as we know it today.”
Oh come on now! Shit dies. It is part of the science of ecology. It is taken over by other shit better adapted to survive. That is what ecology is, the study of the interaction of life AND DEATH of flora, fauna and all other living creatures on earth. If the narwhale becomes extinct, it will be because another form of life is better suited to its environment and changes which are always occurring on Earth.
Don’t get me wrong; now that I have heard of it, I am rooting for the narwhale. It is a cool looking creature, I wish it the best. I also wish the best for other oft tracked animals such as the great white shark, and the polar bear, as long as they don’t get tracked into my back yard.
The Monarch Butterfly I don’t worry about!
Tagging a Butterfly? REALLY?
How much of this tracking is important scientific study and how much is paid (by government or other institution grants) fun? When I see TV specials on some of these studies, the work looks like fun. Scientists in shorts and tee shirts are fishing, diving, rock climbing or hiking through the woods looking to track or“band” critters. They never look unhappy or tired. They look like they are doing stuff that other people would pay lots of money to do.
I have personally viewed on TV shows, over one thousand fish tagged or birds banded; there must be millions that were not filmed. Have you ever heard of or met someone that has re-caught one of these banded or tagged critters? Neither have I. Can someone please show me a report documenting where all these critters go and how tracking them has saved the world.
Look, I don’t want to stop this
fun research; I’m just not sure I want to pay for it with my taxes. To the extent that filming these studies makes compelling TV and helps to defer research expenses, I am all for continuing the studies. However, I do object to the serious tone of the importance of these endeavors. Tracking critters is fun, it is interesting and it may well be useful in scientific studies, but let’s not elevate it to curing cancer or ending aids status.