Sep. 17th, 2010

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I've started up a regular Wednesday thing on the CUWISE blog, inspired by some folk I knew in high school who used to do fun things on Wednesdays to break up the week a bit. I'm queueing them up well in advance as I find things that are kind of fun.

Today, I found this cute video of dolphins blowing bubble rings (embedded below):



And then I started writing up some text to go with explaining why this felt like fun science and engineering to me:


Observing animal behaviours is an important part of biology, but a part that maybe doesn't have as long a history as one might think: one of my relatives told a tale of how birdwatchers used to shoot the birds and identify them later, rather than the more modern (and humane!) way of trying to identify them on the wing. I've met naturalists who hope we'll see a switch to observing bugs the way we do birds. And Jane Goodall, when she was visiting Ottawa for the Writer's Festival, talked about how when she recorded her observations of chimpanzees many people told her that she was being foolish to ascribe emotions to them when trying to explain their behaviour!


Now the thing I'd like to verify is that Carm (the relative who has/d the stuffed bird collection and who was telling us about birders of yore) mentioned that he didn't think regular folk really got interested in bird identification (as opposed to just bird shooting) until the Peterson Field Guides became available. The wikipedia page for the guides does imply that they were a very practical guide for non-scientists, but doesn't really credit them with changing the face of birding. Does anyone know if Peterson is really the one who really changed the face, or was it another guide that started the trend, or is it all murky? I'm trying to find a way to fit that little tidbit of info into the post because I thought it was cool, but I don't know how accurate it is!

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