Researchers dodge bears, fend off venomous insects, endure dangerous weather and even more dangerous people — all in the name of science. This week, they took to Twitter to talk about their close calls in remote locations, and the hashtag #FieldWorkScares was born.
"Someone mentioned that the stress of fieldwork made every little thing scary which I agreed with so I created the #FieldworkScares as a way of showcasing this," ecologist Scott Davidson, told The Verge via direct message. But while some shared photos and stories about false alarms, others gave scary insights into the real risks of fieldwork. Risks, like itchy corn rashes and stumbling across cars filled with dead pigs. Also bears.
Got lost in corn field & a blade of corn hit my eye. Pain, can't see, itchy corn rash, panicked & barreling thru the corn #FieldWorkScares— Audrey Maran (@AudreyMaran) September 29, 2016
Ants built a home in our expensive equipment— Shelby Bohn (@shelbybohn) September 28, 2016
Beaver slapping water
My own shadow
Cougar shaped tree
Actual cougar#FieldworkScares https://t.co/UD3aSgJeXN
#FieldWorkScares getting stung in the face by your study system and ending up in the ER. I still love and study them (armed with an EpiPen). pic.twitter.com/vFtK9dka77— Rachael Bonoan (@RachaelEBee) September 29, 2016
#FieldWorkScares Searching at night for darted kangaroo, stumble on dead, clothed pigs seated in wrecked car - part of forensics study.— Andrea Fuller (@AndreaFuller06) September 30, 2016
Face-to-face with this beaut in SE Greenland at 8 am #fieldworkscares #adrenalineisthenewcaffeine pic.twitter.com/SQkMxgzYqz— Laurence Dyke (@LaurenceDyke) September 29, 2016
When there was a major #bushfire at our field site.Concern for safety of ppl & animals #FieldWorkScares pic.twitter.com/VyvPtwwNij— Stephanie Hing (@Conserv8nVet) September 29, 2016
When I had to climb a dead Aspen to get blood work from this guy #FieldWorkScares pic.twitter.com/g4BqD2MWo1— John Benning (@_jbenning) September 29, 2016
But a darker theme emerged, too. No matter how remote the location, unsafe the weather, or infected the bug bite — other people are the scariest things around. The data backs that up: in a 2014 study, more than 20 percent of people who responded to an online survey reported being sexually assaulted while doing fieldwork.
My worst #FieldWorkScares involved men harassing me. Once had to threaten bearspray to get 'em to back down, fired all when back at camp— Mika McKinnon (@mikamckinnon) September 28, 2016
#FieldWorkScares— Marcus Chua (@marcuschua) September 29, 2016
Stepped on a poacher's trap which snapped violently upwards. Could've fractured an ankle. So mad. Have it at my desk now. pic.twitter.com/AaUcuWmx8H
drunk ppl driving up next to your remote campsite and parking beside your tent #FieldWorkScares— Amanda Liczner (@aliczner) September 29, 2016
Getting shot at repeatedly while surveying a #Phragmites marsh. They couldn't see us, or us them. #nothuntingseason #FieldWorkScares— Eric Hazelton (@MarshNinja) September 28, 2016
Even as they one-upped each other, scientists pointed out that swapping stories shouldn’t encourage a culture of toughness. "#FieldWorkScares remind us there are #researchers putting their bodies on the line for #science.We take precautions but there r always risks," tweeted Australian veterinarian and conservation scientist Stephanie Hing. So the conversation slowly shifted to #FieldSafety — which is equally horrifying, in its own, special way.
#FieldSafety I carry a CAT tourniquet & quikclot for UXO, chainsaw injuries, gorings. Maintain situational awareness and have a backup plan.— Daniel Godwin (@danielg7) September 28, 2016