Sunday, November 13, 2011

Search At Your Own Risk, or, You Call That A Manatee?

My daughter is working on a report for school on the manatee. She loves to draw but she also wants real pictures so I introduced her to the wonders of Google Images.  She types "manatee" and Google's recognition software gives her a bunch of options, including "manatees kissing."  She thinks this is a riot and clicks on it.  Sure enough, the screen fills with photographs and illustrations of manatees kissing, snuggling up to each other, interacting with humans, etc.  And then father down, we get this:

Sea World has changed since
the last time I was there.
Now countless times in my career, I've hit the stock photography sites for specific images I needed to sell an idea or spruce up a storyboard.  And I'd always come across a few pictures that had nothing to do with my original search request.  But this was a little surprising.  I guess "manatees kissing" is very similar to "man kissing."  In fact, the farther down the page you go, the more images like the above you'll see.

Fortunately, my daughter thought it was a riot and we moved on.

Now our search was for some manatee predators.  We found a great image of a manatee and a shark. And it turns out that humans are considered predators of the manatee, solely because of motor boats and jet skis.  The majestic sea cows tend to get sliced up in the propellers.  So we type "people on motorboats," hoping to find some rowdy humans on an obnoxious cigarette speed boat or something.  We found a couple of good images and we should have quit while we were ahead.  But we kept looking down the page and came across this:

The thing is, I get the
 motorboat connection here.
I'll be studying this phenomena a little further and I'll report back to you.

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