The 5 Best #FieldWorkFails

AFS Team·6 August 2015·5 min read
The 5 Best #FieldWorkFails

In case you haven’t heard, #FielWorkFails is all the rage on Twitter right now. For any science students who are worried they might not have what it takes for a career in science, or for anybody anxiously awaiting their science A-level results, these stories show how even some of the brightest minds in the world can screw up – big time. So no matter how badly you do on a test or a research paper, always remember - at least you didn’t accidentally glue yourself to a crocodile.

1. Tag, You’re It

Tagging rare and endangered wildlife is an incredibly useful practice, letting scientists gather valuable data on animals’ health, movements, and habits. But these tags don’t come cheap – with all the data they need to track and the hazards they need to withstand, they can get expensive. Which is why scientists have to be very careful in applying these tags, in case they accidentally throw away hundreds of pounds worth of equipment. Well, careful, that is, unless you’re Dr. Alistair Dove.

Skillfully applied thousand dollar satellite tag to manta ray. The same manta ray I tagged yesterday #fieldworkfail Dr Alistair Dove@AlistairDove

2. Crash Bandicoot

While the only bandicoot most people knows is the titular videogames character, they are actually a real, adorable, tiny little creature native to Australia. Easy to confuse with rodents, they are actually marsupials, but are about as similar to a kangaroo as your pug is to a grey wolf. As is the fate of all cute and fluffy creatures, bandicoots are quite badly endangered, and so conservationist Myrtle Violet set out to try and help the tiny animals – emphasis on the ‘try’.

I hit a southern brown bandicoot driving home from my day restoring habitat for southern brown bandicoots :-/ #fieldworkfail

Myrtle Violet @myrtleviolet

3. Rock & Roll

Ever heard of Paraponera Clavata? It’s a species of insect more commonly known as the ‘Bullet Ant’. A strange name for an insect that doesn’t shoot anything or even resemble a bullet, the tiny little monster is named after its incomprehensibly painful sting, which feels roughly like being shot. To see just what a bullet ant can do to you, check out comedian Hamish Blake’s reaction to being stung by them over 100 times. That’s why you really don’t want to find yourself in the situation biological anthropologist Christopher Schmitt found himself in when chasing after some tricksy monkeys.

Monkeys ran. I followed. Rammed foot in huge hole, which caused a boulder to pin it down. Boulder crawling with bullet ants.

Christopher Schmitt @fuzzyatelin

4. Zebra Crossing

They say a picture speaks a thousand words, so we’ll let Carrie Cizauskas’ photo do most of the talking. At least we can learn from this #FieldWorkFail: be careful where you put your drugged up zebras (though that should probably go without saying). And we now finally have the answer to the age old question of ‘How many guys does it take to get a semi-conscious zebra’s head out of a treek ?’ It’s three, apparently. Who knew.

When your drugged zebra finds the ONE tree on the Namibian plains, which also has a neck-height fork #fieldworkfail

Carrie Cizauskas @CarrieCizauskas

5. A Sticky Situation

Postgraduate biology and ecology student Agata Staniewicz doesn’t seem to have had the best time on her recent trip to study the endangered Tomistoma Schlegelii crocodile in Southeast Asia. From being bitten by a baby croc, to accidentally sinking her boat twice only to have a group of angry macaques pee on her as she tried to climb up a tree to safety, it’s fair to say Agata hasn’t been having much fun on safari. But by far her best #FieldWorkFail has to be this sticky situation she found herself in.

Accidentally glued myself to a crocodile while attaching a radio transmitter. #fieldworkfail

Agata Staniewicz @AgataStaniewicz And just to rub salt in the croc bite…

I should add that the croc lost the transmitter within 24h. Was supposed to stay on for a month. #fieldworkfail

Agata Staniewicz @AgataStaniewicz

Got a good #FieldWorkFail you want to share? Send them to us on Facebook or Twitter.