Proving that, indeed, government officials – scientists no less – do have a sense of humor, a state agency posted an announcement that they recovered the drone sent to the bottom of Lake Michigan last month by a feisty bald eagle.
And, as you’ll see in a moment, the announcement also pokes a little fun at reporters, lawyers, and perhaps even the agency itself.
Here’s the real news: The $950 drone was documenting erosion to the Lake Michigan shoreline south of Escanaba on July 21 as part of a project to help residents and communities cope with high-water erosion when the bird of prey, and America’s national symbol, attacked it, tearing off a propeller.
Of course, news of the attack went viral as a version of the classic man-bites-dog story.
Well, the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy plucked the waterlogged hardware from the lakebed Tuesday, at almost the exact GPS coordinates of its final transmission. It was upside-down in the muck.
And interestingly enough, the recovery itself may offer some scientific information, because the recovery team “was surprised to find that the previously murky water had cleared due to shifting winds and currents. Two previous attempts in tannin-darkened waters met with no success; third time’s a charm.”
But there is no footage of the eagle’s assault, because the drone wasn’t recording at the time.
From here, the agency’s flacks admittedly start to have some fun.
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They dub the recovery team the Willful Eagle Trauma Team Engaged in Retrieval, or WETTER. Despite the fact that government agencies love acronyms and, yes, there are some seemingly silly ones out there. But, no, WETTER is not a real thing.
And in case you didn’t pick up on the tongue-in-cheek part of the announcement, the agency added a few more lines, written in newspeak: “Reached Wednesday afternoon the eagle referred all requests for comment to a Lake Michigan burbot – also known as a “Lawyer Fish.”
And Fish had a few choice words for the agency:
“While we appreciate EGLE assessing shoreline erosion in the Great Lakes and doing so will help in making better management decisions for both wildlife and the public, this should make clear that the laws of nature shall not be trifled with. The disrespect shown by EGLE, first by demeaning eagles everywhere with its cutesy acronym – and now blatantly violating their airspace will no longer be tolerated.”