A Quick Story About Ben & That Boat

yoohoo

I have a quick story about Ben Wurst and that boat from the previous post, Das Boot. While I risk embarrassing Ben by teasing him a bit here, this story is true, I’m the only one who can tell it, so I should, and it is a good testament to Ben’s character. And besides, he brought it up in the comments:

the-boat

I vividly remember the day we banded that nest and meeting the people on that boat. Next time I’m going to make sure any bystanders will be invited to help!

~ Ben Wurst

I bet you will. Here’s what happened:

When we arrived at the nest, there was a boat full of people parked just off the sandbar. As soon as we landed and started approaching the nest, two children on the boat started trying to get the attention of their parents and their parents’ friends:

“Mom, Dad, those guys are going up to the birds and that nest!! Dad, they are bothering the birds! Dad??? DAD!!!!”

“What? Oh, yeah. Great,” says Dad before turning his back to the children again.

I believe Ben muttered something under his breath like, “Oh boy, here it comes!”

But nothing ever came. The children sat on the edge of the boat and stared at us with wide eyes while their parents went on chatting up a storm and ignoring both them, and us.

Now, I was doing the banding this day as part of my apprenticeship so was not paying attention to the boat, or the children on board… but boy… Ben sure was. He started getting more and more agitated as the children continued to watch and ask each other questions about what we might be doing, while the adults on board continued to ignore them, and us.

Soon Ben started saying things out loud while I was trying to band. “Geez, listen to your kids and maybe they could come over here and meet an Osprey up close!”

When we got to the third baby, the runt of the bunch, Ben wanted me to band him outside the nest. This was fine with me as I did not want the older two to take advantage of the situation and peck at the runt (or me!) while banding.

runt
Runt!

But when Ben took the runt all the way around to the back of the nest and over towards the edge of the sandbar closest to their boat, I knew exactly what was going on. Ben was trying to get their attention.

The kids were fascinated and talked excitedly to each other while the adults remained oblivious.

So what was really going on here? You might think Ben was looking for a confrontation, so he could pull rank. But that wasn’t it at all. You might think he wanted to brag to them about how cool it is being the Osprey Hero of Barnegat Bay. But that wasn’t it either. Maybe he just wanted those adults to care that we were apparently disturbing this nest and maybe to at least say something. That’s definitely true, but I don’t think that’s what was at the heart of Ben’s annoyance here.

Ben simply saw two young people whose lives might be changed forever by the once-in-a-lifetime experience of getting close to a wild, baby Osprey. Ben, like many of our great scientists and wildlife managers, knows that the job isn’t just about the animals… its about all of us. Every single one of us. Ben’s work is about our lives down the shore, and our lives as humans on a tiny planet we share with other creatures.

Every small moment and opportunity for outreach and education in the Bay is precious. Ben knows it, and he savors every one, always making the most of the opportunity, especially when children are involved.

Ben wanted those adults to say something so he could invite the whole family over to join us at the nest and they could experience, and share in, the magic. That’s who Ben is, and he understands the real game he is playing here.

To make the point clear, here is the end of the story: the banding ended, the kids were still fascinated, and the adults were still oblivious. So we got back in the boat, drove over to them, introduced ourselves, and spent the next hour talking about Osprey, wildlife, fishing, and the health of the Bay with some new friends (who just missed an amazing opportunity for themselves and especially their children!)

Thanks to everyone who has helped with the fundraiser to make sure Ben has a boat this season. If you haven’t had a chance to contribute, please do! Even just $10 makes a huge impact.

Vist the fundraiser: https://www.gofundme.com/njospreys

I vividly remember the day we banded that nest and meeting the people on that boat. Next time I’m going to make sure any bystanders will be invited to help!

~ Ben Wurst

I bet you will, Ben. I bet you will.