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Otterman speaks...

Cycling, macintosh, natural history and life in Singapore - Archives

List of Categories : travel * museum * cycling * Singapore Naturalist * science * kakis * mangroves * movies * mac and the internet * meow * NUS * life in Singapore * lit * world *

Tue 25 Jan 2005

Fish fraud email popular, fools many

Category : NUS

An email circulating last year with the subject line "Deep sea creatures" distributes photos taken from an expedition article written about the stranger aspect of the catch by our museum friend and octopus expert, Mark Norman of the Victoria Museum, Australia.

A friend encountered it and asked if I knew about it since I seem to be interested in this sort of thing.

I googled it - some of the photos included collection labels, a laborious but neccessary element of specimen collections by museums and scientists. Labels used on an expedition would bear the expedition or code name. These photos provided a name which google found: Norfanz ; internet seach engines are a wonderful help. Amazing how many apparently feel they could live without it!

The article photos were apparently exciting to the lay community and widely circulated, so kudos to Mark for the original feature.

However, the pictures were typically circulated in a sloppy manner, bearing no indication of the course. It seemed typical of internet coffee shop talk - passed excitedly from person to person, eventually some embellishment is insertd.

What kept this relatively untouched was the absence of text. Or so I thought.

The Sunday Times reported this as a "fish fraud email" circulating recently in the internet. The diffeerence? The original email now bore a sensational subject line - "Deep Sea Creatures 1 - Found At Phuket Seaside After Tsunami.".

The suggestion was that the Dec 2004 tsunami was so forceful, it threw deep sea creatures to shore, defying every explanation.

Since the article cited Betrand (on a research visit with us right now) and Peter Ng, the museum director, I put it up on Raffles Museum News. The usual routine for articles mentioning the museum.

But today I was informed that the article and post have been used to discount the hoax in a couple of universities regionally and in the US.

Coffee shop talk is apparently not restricted to coffee shops. But it is fascinating viewing, so take a look at "Creature Features." By Mark Norman. Norfanz Voyage, 10 May to 8 June 2003. National Oceans Office. Last updated 10th May 2003. [1 of 5 articles]/a>.

Posted at 3:36PM UTC by N. Sivasothi | permalink | , .