Jessica Dryer, Bracken Cave, Harry discussed on Earth Rangers
Here Rangers earth ranger, Emma here employed, you I have a treat for you today. We're going to present an episode from our friends at the tumble podcast. It's all about bats tumble podcast is a science podcast for kids. And every episode tells a fascinating story of science and discovery if you're looking for great podcasts, the whole family can enjoy track tumble. We think both parents and kids guaranteed to learn something, new smart and fun. And personally, I'm a huge fan. So without further ado, here's the episode. Hi, I'm Lindsay and our Marshall. Welcome to tumble the show where we explore stories of science discovery today. We're headed to the bat cave. You mean the place where Batman and Robin? Hang out waiting for calls about crimes and Gotham city. No, it's way cooler than that. We're going on a field trip to the biggest back Coney in the entire world where we'll meet a bat biologist and find out how bats learn to be bad. One morning this summer. I got up to watch the sunrise on an old ranch outside of San Antonio, Texas. But there was one element of the sunrise. You can't see or hear anywhere else in the world. That sound is wind passing over millions of bat wings. So this is the beginning of when the bat start to rain down in the morning. That's real life bat women's lash bet biologist Jessica dryer, I met her around six AM near the entrance to Bracken cave, which is home to fifteen million Mexican free tailed, bats fifteen million bats. Yeah. It's the largest concentration of mammals on the planet when you are standing by the cave, and you look up into the sky pretty much as far as you can see upwards. You'll just see these little dots appear out of the sky, and they'll just drop straight down. And they've been clocked at about forty miles an hour dropping into the cave. And so I mean, literally, thousands of bats will be raining down over you coming back into the cave, and it is one of the most cool otherworldly experiences. You'll ever. Have. It was like being in some sort of secret bat world, but what made it even more special was that this huge cloud of bats was made up only of mothers and their babies too. Big moms group. So we're approaching that point right now or the sun is starting to rise and more bats are starting to come in from a night of feeding are we going to get pooped on? Yeah. Yeah. If you're standing close enough to the cave. Yes. You will get some rain some urine rain and some poop landing on your head. Hope you brought your bat raincoat or should I say hoop coat? I actually don't have one. This is so incredibly amazing where else can you see this kind of thing not many places in the world. And you know, it doesn't seem to matter. How many times you've seen it at always blows your mind? Jessica seen it a lot all summer. She's been camping outside the cave in every night. She's up between two AM and nine AM catching bats. And that's what I've come to see wait. We catching bats dislike grabbing them out of the air like. How and why let's talk about why? The point of this whole project that I'm working on is to figure out. What's the transition? Looks like when a baby bat goes from drinking only its mother's milk to learning how to catch its own bugs. And then finally feeding itself entirely on books that catches itself. In other words, she's trying to figure out how that babies get weaned from their mommies. That's something we do is human babies, except you know, we don't start eating bugs. It's usually fruit or something avocado. Yeah. But so well, this is a delightful time for humans to spread you know, food all over their faces. This is actually one of the most difficult times in a young bats life. So you're a young bat, you're still growing you're trying to figure out how to fly how to echo locate. How to catch bugs all of this is happening at the same time, and your milk supplies that you're getting fed are decreasing. And so you are expending a ton of energy trying to learn how to be about. And you're the energy. That's coming in is decreasing. So Jessica's goal is to figure out how that process actually works and to do that she has to catch a lot of bats. So we're approaching the mouth of the cave right now. It's a quick hike from the viewing area where I met Jessica to the bat catching spot, and we really just stand right in front of the opening of the cave right in the. Middle because the bats when they're dropping down into the cave from the sky, they sort of aim for the the middle top of the cave. And so that's where the most bats, aren't it gives us our best chance of catching them. So I'm with my technician his name is Harry, and he has the butterfly net. And so he's just going to go ahead and stick the butterfly in that straight up into the air, and he doesn't even have to move. It catch bats with a butterfly net. Like, there's not a special baton at the bat just this circle floating in the air in the fly right into it already caught about and it's been about a split second that he's had the net in the air. So he just reaches end with his hand. And he's wearing a baseball glove or a golf glove. It's just a thin leather gloves to protect himself from that bites. And you might have heard that on the Mike. He just drops the bat into one of the little paper bags that. I'm holding open for him. And so I fully the paper bag over a close it up with clothes pin. And I write the time of capture on the bag. And so it is six fifty two. So there are bad bags. Can you get those at target? You actually can they're like regular Brown paper lunch bags the kind. You would bring the school. And then here's the thing after they catch the bats, the put them in a little cooler. This one's for launch. This one's for the bats. Yeah. There's no ace. It's just to carry the bads. He's already got. He just dropped the second bat into the bag six fifty three. So he's got the nut back up in the air. And he's already caught a third bat. So as I watched from about fifty yards away. I could see Jessica in Harriet standing in the swarm of bats raising and lowering the net like they're picking apples or something. All right. So we have ten bats. So we are just gonna go ahead and carry are cooler with our bags full of bats backup to the top of the sinkhole. So that we can work on our data collection. The data collection is the time consuming part to do that we walked back with the cooler too small clearing where there's a little outdoor lab that would just we have this table set up with all of our equipment on it. And this is where we process the bats. So what exactly does it mean to process a bad like they have to fill out a form and make sure they get their social security number, right? No. It means that they're going to go through a series of steps. To collect information about each bat. It starts with Harry weighing them while they're still inside the lunch bag. So once he's done. I just. Ahead and pull out the bat.