Saturday, May 11, 2013

Dino Lives!

Remember the pink plastic dinosaur toy somebody stuck in front of a webcam trained on a New Zealand volcano several years ago? In case you'd forgotten, or in the unlikely event that this is the first time you are hearing about it, "Dino" first mysteriously appeared on the White Island Crater webcam in May of 2004. Here's one of the earliest pictures:

Scientists in charge of the webcam claimed they did not know who put it there, but they decided not to remove it. They said the acidic atmosphere near the volcano would destroy it in a matter of months.

Scientists can be wrong.

For a long time, I checked the webcam periodically, to see how Dino was doing. Here's a picture from 2008:

As you can see, four years later he was still there, although his bright pink color had become a bit faded.

After a while I forgot about him, although apparently others didn't. He became a sort of unofficial mascot for New Zealand. He even has his own Facebook page.

I thought of Dino yesterday and decided to take a look at the White Island Crater webcam. I hadn't been there in years. He was still there, although he and the camera had both been moved to a new location. Here's the link, if you want to see for yourself. (Although you won't see much now; while I'm writing this, it's the middle of the night in New Zealand.)

I'm sure there's a lesson to be learned from the stubborn refusal of this little plastic dinosaur to be destroyed by the most corrosive chemicals in nature, but I'm not sure what it is.

Is it a warning about the persistence of plastics in the environment and the importance of recycling?

Or is it a reassuring metaphor for the endurance of the human spirit and sense of humor under even the harshest conditions?

I suppose it's all in the way you look at it.

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