Tuesday, May 09, 2006

The umbrella effect as applied to marine mammals

You know the umbrella effect: if you carry an umbrella, it may not rain, but if you don't, it's sure to. Same deal with taking a book when I hop in the car to go literally anywhere; about 95% of the time I don't need it, but any situation in which you're stuck for an hour or two and wish you had a book is by definition unforeseeable, so it's better to have a book along just in case.

Yesterday afternoon we went for a long walk along West Cliff. I almost grabbed my binoculars as we headed out the door. I consciously thought, "Hey, maybe I should take my binoculars." And then my stupid brain said, "Nah!"

Stupid, stupid brain.

Within five minutes of getting out of the car, we saw a pair of sea otters frollicking amongst the kelp. Just far enough out that some binoculars would have been great. Oh, and there was one rock a ways out where some sea lions were having a lay in the sun convention. And then on the way back we saw dolphins. I've never seen dolphins from shore at West Cliff. Finally, as we came around to Lighthouse Point there was another sea otter just about 50 yards from shore. Fortunately, I had a digital camera; unfortunately, it was the lo-rez POS we got for taking pictures of London. Here's my strikingly Nessie-esque photo of the alleged sea otter; you'd be forgiven if you thought it was a dead mime, or a really big bird dookie.

One of these days I'm going to get some of those binoculars with the digital camera built in, and I'm going to wear them everywhere. I don't care how stupid it looks. We can talk about stupid after I get ultrarich from selling my photos of Sasquatch and UFOs. I'll be that one guy who really did have binoculars and a camera ready when that once-in-a-lifetime event happened.


Oh, there were also shitloads of cormorants and pelicans, as always. Hardly worth mentioning. I'm just piling on the tetrapods to hopefully make Darren jealous.

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Blogger Darren Naish said...

It worked.

By the way, the title of this post made me think you were going to discuss...

Springer, A. M., Estes, J. A., van Vliet, G. B., Williams, T. M., Doak, D. F., Danner, E. M., Forney, K. A. & Pfister, B. 2003. Sequential megafaunal collapse in the North Pacific Ocean: an ongoing legacy of industrial whaling? Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 100, 12223-12228.

2:26 AM  
Blogger Dr. Vector said...

Ooh, ooh, this is going to be a new game! I'll come up with leading titles that make you think I'm going to write about a very specific topic, but then the posts will be disappointingly different. Bonus points if my B.S. titles actually make sense both ways.

3:13 AM  
Blogger Mike Taylor said...

"Piling on the tetrapods" would be a good name for a diet book.

6:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bah, on my last Natural History of the Vertebrates field trip, we saw over 100 species of tetrapods. Its amazing what you can find when you really look.


2:02 PM  

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