Bringing the grey to light


Want to know what happens when a fish is sucked into a powerplant intake from both the technical and fish’s point of view? Curious about what some of the legends in the field of taxonomy were writing when they were undergraduates? Want to track down every single fish gut contents record in the Pacific Northwest for the last century?

Wonder no more! The gray literature, formerly that stuff that scientists hold in vague contempt but often turn to for absolutely crucial basic information, is now starting to come online.

I discovered this talking to the amazing library staff at Moss Landing Marine Lab. There, they are part of an effort called Aquatic Commons, which is putting reports online from a variety of US and international agencies. MLML is specifically working up the California Department of Fish and Game collection.

This is in turn feeding into Avano, a marine and aquatic science literature search engine which hits both the grey and the white literature.

And there really are some gems, such as Don Abbbott’s undergrad report on the littoral ascidians of Monterey Bay before he went on to co-author Intertidal Invertebrates of California, early studies of the impact of the Diablo Canyon power plant which shaped much of how we monitor biological impacts,or, my personal favorite, Purgatorio – two rather different views of the same event which I excerpt from below:

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