[Coral-List] Strobes blind seahorses?

Tupper, Mark (WorldFish) M.Tupper at CGIAR.ORG
Mon Apr 5 22:43:35 EDT 2010

Dear Mel,

I completely agree that this sort of public outreach, i.e. answering questions that the public is likely to ask, is on-topic for Coral-L. However, I can't help wondering why there are currently 10 posts on blind seahorses for every post about the recent ship grounding on the GBR, which seems to me a much more serious and immediate problem worth discussing on this listserv...


Dr. Mark H. Tupper
Scientist - Coral Reefs and Reef Fisheries
The WorldFish Center
Los Banos, Laguna, Philippines

-----Original Message-----
From: coral-list-bounces at coral.aoml.noaa.gov on behalf of Melbourne Briscoe
Sent: Sat 4/3/2010 9:07 PM
To: coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
Subject: [Coral-List] Strobes blind seahorses?
Thanks to all of you who took the time to respond to this query. It is
important that the knowledgeable scientists offer their input in these
public-related issues; this is the kind of thing the public really cares
about, and letting them live on an urban myth is not helpful to them or to
the science. 


I believe the mean/median/modal response to my query was: there is no
specific science to support the blinding statement, but there is plenty of
anecdotal and behavioral evidence to suggest that continued strobe
photography and other interruptions cannot possibly be helpful, is surely
not neutral, and is likely harmful to the seahorse, if only to interrupt
their foraging and provide some additional stress to their environment. 


So the message to the photographers is almost identical - be judicious and
careful in your use of strobes, and in your photography in general - but the
reason is more one of avoid stressing the animal, not a made-up reason about
blinding the little guy. I'm OK with this.


I'm sorry a few posters on this topic felt it was off-topic for this board.
Perhaps the on-topic version of the question would have been: is it
important and appropriate for working scientists to engage in public
communications? Should scientific errors and misinformation in the media and
public domain be addressed and corrected by scientists?


Mel Briscoe

(retired from Woods Hole, NOAA, and ONR, now at Ocean Leadership)

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