Field Bloopers

Scientists air their most embarrassing fieldwork flubs on Twitter.

Aug 3, 2015
Bob Grant

WIKIMEDIA, KMANOJWorking in a life-science lab can be difficult. But misbalanced ultracentrifuges, spilled reagents, and wasted resources can pale in comparison to the trouble a hapless biologist can encounter in the field. Following on this spring’s wildly entertaining confessions of laboratory mishaps on Reddit, researchers have been sharing their most humbling fieldwork flubs on Twitter under the hashtag #fieldworkfail. Some highlights:

Toilet troubles

‏arcticmarci: “Found the only gloves in the heli to collect poop from a muskox but the bastards cut off the fingers.”

Avibase: “I once started running after used toilet paper in the tundra thinking they were my field notes being blow away by wind”

Scientist versus nature

‏NerdyChristie: “Pissed off a very large monk seal. Had to spend half my dive making sure it didn't steal my buddy's fins.”

‏KamounLab: “You go there to chase insects and instead insects start chasing you...”

Legal woes

‏leafwarbler: “Adv loves to regale ppl w tale of getting self+students kidnapped in Kashmir, working w/out permit.”

‏nesmithguzman: “Asked what's in bag when transporting archaeo deer bones 2 Panama. Spanish failed, replied ‘archaeologist's bones’. Detained.”

And the pièce de résistance

‏AgataStaniewicz: “Accidentally glued myself to a crocodile while attaching a radio transmitter.”