19 January 2010

Tuesday Crustie: Oh no it isn’t

Occasionally, as an academic, you have these moments of shock, when you recognize something that you have personally worked on and that you know about. These moments are often followed by disappointment, when you realize that it is completely wrong.

I was walking along the walkway on the South Padre Island World Birding Center, and come across this on a sign.

I was so pleased to see the name of the species I spent about six years working with for my Ph.D., and published four papers about: Blepharipoda occidentalis. And Blepharipoda are sometimes called mole crabs, though they more typically called sand crabs.

Then, the disappointments start.

First, that picture is not Blepharipoda occidentalis. That picture is probably some species of Hippa, which is not even in the same family as Blepharipoda.

Second, Blepharipoda occidentalis is a species that lives in California, not the Gulf of Mexico.

Third, there are no species of Hippa on South Padre Island, either. There are mole crabs on South Padre Island, but they’re Lepidopa and Emerita.

So this sign is wrong at least three different ways. The sign had the logo for NOAA on it. It’s surprising, because agencies like this usually have access to experts and the scientific literature.

And in among realizing all this, you also realize that you’re one of maybe a half dozen people in the world who would know or care.

Photo by Kevin Faulkes. Thanks, Dad.


Anonymous said...

That sucks. I hope you sent them an e-mail with the corrections - they may not change the sign but there'd be some satisfaction in it.

Zen Faulkes said...

I'm giving a talk at the center next month, and I do believe this will make a perfect first slide to make the point about how little people know about life that lives in beaches.