Infinitesimal and in command
September 4, 2017
As wildlife biologists, it is in our nature to ask questions about the organisms that we observe. In fact, the fields of ecology and conservation have their roots in the naturalist movement of the 1800s, when simply spending hours outdoors observing different species was an acceptable form of science. Ironically, even basking shark hunters in this same period took a page from the book of the naturalists, relying on yearly observations to find the “hotspot” locations of these migratory animals. You can therefore imagine that it would be especially difficult to frame formal questions and develop hypotheses in the absence of your study organism...
THE DAY OF THE LEPRECHAUN SHARK
AUGUST 26, 2017
Since it was first described in the 1760s, the basking shark has had many names: sea monster, sun-fish, even broad-headed gazer. However, as I stood at the helm of the Swilly Goose on Monday evening, I decided another was more appropriate. “They’re leprechaun sharks,” Heather joked. “Only the Irish can see them.” We had been circling close to the cliffs of Malin Head for nearly an hour, and we Americans had yet to see one. That’s not to say, however, that the basking sharks simply weren’t interested in making an appearance. In fact, they were about to make an incredible first impression....
FIRST ADVENTURES ON THE SWILLY GOOSE
AUGUST 19, 2017
“Can you imagine? A year ago you were only talking about coming to Ireland. Now you’re actually here doing something,” Emmett grinned as he pulled his head back behind the console. I smiled back before pulling my hydrophone onto his boat, the Swilly Goose. I hadn’t expected to have another philosophical scientist on this trip, but his words weren’t lost on me....
Photo: Emmett Johnston