Tonight I got around to watching "Reefs to Rainforests," the documentary about the 2011 scientific expedition to the Philippines organized by the California Academy of Sciences. It's a really amazing story about the largest expedition ever organized by the Academy in its 158 years of existence, with about 100 participants from the Academy and local partners.
Watching these scientists from many disciplines dive deep into the ocean, hike deep into the rainforest, climb tall trees, and root out insects and spiders in the middle of night is a great reminder of what a fantastic adventure science can be. They got to see parts of the Philippines that I have dreamt of visiting, and other areas that were totally remote and intimidating.
And I learned that these scientists are made of sterner stuff than me. You see one arachnologist get bit by a gigantic spider as he is putting it in the a bag for collection. "I'm pretty sure they aren't poisonous," he says, examining the bite. He then resumes searching for more spiders. WOAH.
I also appreciated how much the scientists were connecting with local researchers, teachers, and towns folk, to educate, exchange ideas and collaborate on ways to preserve the local environment, for themselves and succeeding generations of Filipinos. Makes me proud to work at the Academy. And a bit more hopeful about the Philippines, seeing locals stand up for the environment.
My only regret is that this expedition happened before I was at the Academy! But I get to see the fruits of it every day that I'm on the public floor.