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My favorite story about Craig McClain

Sasquatch?

Sasquatch?

Today marks the last day of Craig McClain week for our friends over at Deep Sea News. We’ve celebrated his science, his outreach, and his tremendous spirit. Over the last decade, I’ve been lucky enough to co-author two papers with Craig: Digital environmentalism: tools and strategies for the evolving online ecosystem and Sizing ocean giants: patterns of intraspecific size variation in marine megafauna, both of which have quickly become seminal in their related fields. Craig is a titan, and my one regret is that I didn’t try hard enough to convince him to determine the author order for Sizing Ocean Giants by our respective sizes.

One time, in New Zealand, he tried to impersonate a Sasquatch. 

But my favorite story about Craig has nothing to do with science, outreach, or even the deep sea. It’s all about goats.

In late August 2011, Hurricane Irene came barreling up the eastern seaboard. Though only a Category 3, Irene holds the record as the seventh most costly hurricane in US history. It was big, it was mean, and it was heading right for us.

In those days, our nascent farming fervor was just beginning. We had a pair of goats and a handful of chicken. I had just created the pico-farm. Kevin Zelnio had not yet left for parts unknown (Sweden). The klaxons sounded, the bridges closed. It was time to go.

Without missing a beat, Craig invited me, my wife, and our goats, as well as Kevin and his entire family, to come hunker down at Fortress McClain, further inland and far from the path of the storm. For reasons I still don’t recall, we loaded the goats into the back of Amy’s two-door sports car (instead of my actual truck), locked down the chickens in what would prove to be a hurricane-proof coop, and headed west.

Goats in a car.

Goats in a car.

We wore out our welcome over the next five days, but Craig and his wife were always up for a glass of scotch, a bit of wine, or a game of horseshoes. The goats spent their time tethered in the back yard, keeping his grass neat and trim.

Kids and kid.

Kids and kid.

Goats on the run.

Goats on the run.

Goats are not exactly the world’s easiest pet, and rare is the person who would so readily welcome our menagerie into their home. So here’s to Craig, a great scientist, a good man, and a passable Sasquatch.


Deep-sea biologist, population/conservation geneticist, backyard farm advocate. The deep sea is Earth's last great wilderness.


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