A biological study to remember

If I had but just one wish, I would be a biologist.
What could be better than to wake up in the morning and spend your days playing God with the ecosystem.
Heck, I’d work for free if they’d just buy fuel for the Humvee, ammunition, gill net, crossbow, bullhorn, dart gun, spotlight, harpoons, party barge, pepper spray, seal bombs, radio collars and electroshocking device.
All you need to be a biologist is something to study and a big bag of money. The possibilities are endless.
For example, the Japanese whaling industry depends on biologists to study whales so that the whales can continue to be slaughtered for research. The biologists recently published the results of their research on 4,500 whale carcasses and discovered an interesting fact: the whales are getting thinner. The cause could be global warming or over-fishing but we will need more studies to determine the exact cause.
Anything the Japanese can study, we can study better.
Say what you want about the economy but government grants continue to fall out of the sky like manna from heaven. America is still the land of opportunity where you can study anything you want.
National Park Service biologists recently studied the ear bones of 100 bull trout from the Hoh River. Bull trout are listed as an endangered species that is so rare, that if you should accidently hook one you must release the fish without taking it out of the water. The ear bones or “otoliths” record the life of the fish like the rings of a tree. Otoliths are like flight recorders of the migration from the river to the ocean and back. Unfortunately, to study otolith you must cut it out of the bull trout head, which kills them. That’s research for you.
Even the small fish are not immune to the biologists study. Biologists love to electro-shock streams because the results are so immediate and dramatic. Electric current stuns the fish so they float to the surface where they can be counted, measured and even implanted with electronic tracking devices.
Unfortunately electro-shocking the fish can have serious side effects from burns to killing fish eggs where they were laid in the gravel, deforming the spines on baby fish and making large fish more vulnerable to predators. We’re studying the problem.
Rare and endangered species of birds are not immune to study. The marbled murrelet and the northern spotted owl have been outfitted with cute little transmitter packs that track their every movement and compromise their ability to survive. Coincidentally, populations of these rare and endangered birds continue to decline, even inside Olympic National Park.
Now a biologist wants to stick a transmitter on the dorsal fin of a Puget Sound killer whale to see where they go in winter. That sounds like fun but do we really need to stick a whale and risk enraging or infecting them to answer that question?
Puget Sound orcas prefer king salmon. Don’t we all? Except for the immature blackmouth, there are no king salmon in Puget Sound in winter.
The whales follow the fish. Find the fish and you’ll find the whales without torturing them.
Maybe it’s about time someone studied the biologists.
Perhaps someone could get a Federal grant to fit biologists with a small, color coordinated collars that would record their every movement with GPS satellite accuracy along with rates of respiration, temperature, blood-alcohol levels, drug chemistry as well as valuable polygraph data.
I think it is an idea whose time has come. We’ll thank ourselves later if we do the right thing now.

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