As many of you know I participate in a research program that has been monitoring the whales passing Pt Picquet in Geographe Bay for the last 17 years. Over the last couple of years we have been using drones (with the relevant research permits) to assist in this program. The drones have been a game changer. They enable us to verify the species, the numbers of whales in a pod, take photo-id and observe behavior that we wouldn’t otherwise be able to see.
One aspect of this behavior has been that we are able to observe whales (there is no delicate way to say this) pooing off the coast in Geographe Bay. For researchers this is exciting stuff. It shows that the whales have eaten in the previous 24 hours, and of course that means there must be a food source for them within a 100 nautical mile radius.
There have been a number of instances where blue whales, humpbacks and southern right whales have been video’d pooing. However recently I recorded a blue whale doing this and the poo was a bright yellow “hi-vis” color. Researchers mused over what the whale had been eating.
The ABC picked up on this and published video of the event on ABC Southwest page. From there it went “viral” as my grandkids tell me. The Daily Mail picked it up, a Facebook page in the UK showed the video and had over 700 comments. It seems that the researchers interest was overwhelmed by “toilet humor”. Most of these 700 comments were of the kind “I can do better than that when I have been drinking alcopops! Intellectual stuff.
Then HYBPA (on Channel 10(WIN in the southwest) showed the photo. This one.
HYBPA is Have You Been Paying Attention – a TV program where they show images from recent news and ask the panel for comments.
Others contacted me and promised they would “credit me”. Really?
Then my everwatchful grandkids informed me that pewdiepie had my photo on a recent episode on his Youtube channel. (I hadn’t heard of him). Turns out he has 102 million followers. My photo has had 3.75m ( now 5.5m with nearly 500,000 likes ) views (and going up at 100,000 an hour at one stage). In the episode he used Photoshop to make the yellow poo into a message about Jeffery Epstein – something serious researchers hadn’t considered. I can’t imagine why.
More was to come. The photo was on ABC’s BTN (Behind The News).
I wonder where it will all end. Financially most uses are “fair use” or not worth chasing up. The small amount I will make will cover a fraction of the drone I lost earlier this year. And I wonder what it all says about the Internet. The photo provides important evidence about blue whale migration, but turning yellow whale poo into a message…???
So I have probably reached the peak of my career as a photographer and videographer. I doubt I will ever again reach these heights (or depths).