Boaty McBoatface triumphs, Narluga ascends, Sharks decline, too many bro-authors, and more! Monday Morning Salvage: June 24, 2019

Foghorn (A Call to Action!)

In every issue of the Monday Morning Salvage, we try to highlight 2 to 5 papers from the scientific literature. In doing so, we attempt to provide a broad and diverse cross-section of the diversity of people conducting scientific research. However, our priority is in highlighting papers of particular interest to ocean science, and occasionally that means that we end up recommending papers that are exclusively authored by men. A new paper by Salerno and friends highlights the extreme extent to which papers led by men excludes women co-authors.

To do our small part to push back against this phenomenon, we are adopting a new style guide for paper citations. Conventionally, at Southern Fried Science, we use the colloquial “and friends” instead of “et al.” to make paper citations more approachable and less jargon-y. Going forward, in cases where a paper contains only male co-authors, we will instead replace “et al.” with “and some other dudes“.

Flotsam (what we’re obsessed with right now)

Boaty McBoatface, fresh off of doing science. Photo: NOC
“Plasticrust” sticking to rocks on the shores of Madeira. Photo: Ignacio Gestoso
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On Naming Boats, or why we love Boaty McBoatface.

My first personal research vessel, a 20′ runabout with a huge staging area, was name ‘Black Smoker‘. It was an homage to the hydrothermal vents I study (via a much larger vessel), but also a reference to the nasty old Force 125 outboard, that burned oil like it had just driven the Seleucid Empire from the Temple Mount. My second boat, was small, but lighter, faster, and much more aggressive. I sailed it in some seriously marginal seas. I named it ‘Iffy’.

The French named two different research vessels ‘Pourquoi Pas?’ (literally “Why not?”) which, in addition to being hilarious, is also the answer to the question: Why did you name your ship Pourquoi Pas? The University of Wisconsin-Madison has been studying  Lake Mendota for over 6 years via the research platform ‘David Buoy’. And though the Celtic Explorer was given a strong and noble name, an engine incident on one fateful cruise led many in the Irish research community to informally rechristen it the Celtic Exploder (true story: I once reviewed a proposal that referred to it as the Exploder, throughout).

Giving a research vessel a silly name is a deep and abiding tradition within the marine research community. And, frankly, even if a vessel has a Very Serious Name (TM), the crew is still going to call it something else.

I think Boaty McBoatface is a perfectly good name for a ship, and I agree with Craig McClain that it is a great science outreach opportunity. Did you know the U launched Sikuliag last year? Or that the British christened the Discovery in 2013? No? Well I bet you know about Boaty McBoatfaceRead More