It has occurred to me that over the 50+ years that I have been a field biologist, I have had some really rather neat adventures. I suspect that many – maybe most – people that have gotten into the natural historian-type of biologist business also have lots of adventures. I mean, after all, you spend a lot of time out-of-doors and sometimes you get to go to exotic places – or ordinary places that result in exotic occurrences. Exotic places and/or exotic occurrences, do suggest adventures – do they not?
Surveying for Threatened and Endangered species and nesting birds on Spaceport America right next to a Space-X launch site. The mountains of Jalisco/Colima, Mexico with bats, rodents, and salamanders. Vampire bats along the Rio Naranja. The rain forest in El Yunque National Forest, Puerto Rico – tiny orchids, and coqui frogs. A nature lodge in a Mayan Temple complex in Belize with a spider monkey harassing a troop of black howlers. The greenness of Ireland and ancient fortresses on the edge of sea cliffs. Pine flatwoods and woodlands in Florida with lake Iamonia, a huge alligator, and cowkiller wasps. Saratoga Springs on the southern edge of Death Valley – endangered fish in a warm spring, subsurface oxygen sampling in January, and 12-hour days chasing lizards. A small mammal trapping transect up the side of Mt. Rose in the Sierra Nevada Mountains – a thunderstorm, horizontal lightning, and hail at 10,000 feet. Railroad rights-of-way in Arkansas with streams and lakes and people’s back yards.
During my years of slogging back and forth across the desert looking for critters, I have had lots of time to daydream. Among my maunderings, I have conceived of adventures and mysteries that might result from what I was doing. The idea of a field biologist or biologists going about their ordinary work and stumbling onto extraordinary things – mysteries – and then solving them grew out of those daydreams. Surveying for desert tortoises in a trash dump along a major highway – a strange smell – a dead body.
I have a long history of being fascinated by technology and some of its uses or potential uses in my craft. I was an early user of micro-computers – before they became personal computers, but after one had to build them from kits. How can some of the things that field biologists use as a routine part of their work be used, serendipitously, to solve problems not related to the technology’s intended use?
Let there be a biologist-mystery-solving protagonist! For that matter, let there be a team of biologists working together on rather mundane – but sometimes exciting – projects. Let those biologists solve crimes!
If you are interested, my publications as a working scientist are available at http://www.researchgate.net/profile/Fenton_Kay/research
You will go to my profile overview. Click on “Research” at the top of the profile to see a complete list of my published scientific papers.