Ethological Observations


by Fritz Francisco

Arriving as a graduate student in the last year of my PhD, the mind is used to focusing on specifics, not to be distracted or to waste precious time. Therefore providing an initial project based on my previous work seemed most promising, goal oriented and efficient. The idea was to implement object detection and automation to design an object/artifact with which animals could interact with. The goal was to study these interactions of animals with a novel object which could be manipulated.
After arriving in a place very distant from my research confinement some aspects already seemed less promising. Electricity was not readily available and internet access was not at all continuous, resulting in limited ability to test and research problems when these were encountered. Therefore, before getting frustrated about something as trivial as internet access the only sensible thing to do was spend time in the more rewarding ocean close by and, more importantly, doing this with others that could get equally excited about finding stuff on the beach or by sticking your head underwater. After seeing what amazing opportunities nature in the direct vicinity had to offer these outings became more regular with daily beach visits and nightly observations in the lagoon.   Being trained in aquatic biology and having worked as a scientific diver it is important to me to get close to nature and experience it directly in person. This lead to a transition from the initial idea to implement a project in which an object/artifact is created which was merely constructed from my previous experience and of interest to me solemnly to something more holistic. It was more important for me to participate in the community and assist where needs could be met, which is why I decided to give swimming and snorkeling lessons, which were further improved by assistance from other fellow experienced Dinosaurs and which was a ton of fun.
I think it is important to make things but also reflect on why we are making these things and what implementations these may have. Teaching is a form of making which can be hard to quantify or document but is as rewarding as any other. Therefore, my project turned from "I have an idea, I want to do this" into "let's swim better and stare at things for a little bit".

Each one, teach one