Monday, August 11, 2008

The proper Way

I've recently ranted about frivolous and heartless science and about Shark "experts" proffering ludicrous opinions instead of doing what is to be expected from proper scientists, and that is, to use the Scientific Method:
  • ask Questions
  • make Observations
  • develop a Hypothesis (that is, a theoretical Explanation)
  • make Predictions and then
  • collect, analyze and interpret the necessary Data (that is, the Evidence, often via Experiments) in order to verify or falsify (that is, to test) that Hypothesis.
  • only then, publish the results (as a Model or Theory) and have them re-tested, often by peers.
That is the only acceptable Technique to separate Truth from Belief, Science from Opinion, Superstition, Myth and Religion, fact from fiction, wheat from chaff. Worth keeping in mind when confronted with yet another piece of unproven conjecture.

Apart from "our" very own Juerg and his research on Shark Reef, here are some institutions and individuals who do serious research on the topics of the past rants:

Mexico: Dr Leonardo Castillo from Mexico's National Fisheries Institute has begun equipping thousands of Sharks with satellite, radio and plastic tags to better understand the cause for a recent spate of incidents on the Mexican Pacific Coast. I look forward to his explanations after the results have come in, as it should be. Much more tedious than taking a quick trip to Mexico in order to give a few interviews - but oh so much more credible!

Greenland Sharks: Canada's three Oceans are frequented by up to 41 species of Sharks.
GEERG, the Greenland Shark and Elasmobranch Education and Research Group is currently conducting Research on 3 of them, the Greenland, Basking and Blue , and planning research on the four Lamnids Great White, Shortfin Mako, Porbeagle and Salmon Shark. As far as I can discern, no frivolous killing involved.
The Canadian Shark Research Laboratory conducts research on some of the same Sharks, mostly by examining catches by local fishermen.
Both websites are a treasure trove of information, along with a nifty interactive Shark identification key.

And then, there's of course TOPP, the herculean effort of trying to tag, and thus record the movements of the Pacific Predators, be it cetaceans, fish, Sharks, birds or reptiles. It never ceases to intrigue and amaze me, be it by its sheer scope or by the wealth of information it regularly unveils.

Plenty to discover, plenty to learn.

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