There have been several reports of bizarre creatures washing up on the beach in recent months - triggering some hype about the field of 'cryptozoology'. This science, defined as the 'study of hidden animals', is arguably indeed a science - despite the overpowering popular myths and folklore that bring the body of work to the public. Simply stated, the science leads us 'in search of'.
In many ways this field lies at the popular roots of discovery based science, which should not be confused with hypothesis driven science. I've been involved with both - discovery and hypothesis driven programs - and can say for a fact that new knowledge comes from both lineages of work. Being closed minded to one approach or the other, in my opinion, seals the fate of what could be a successful career in science and exploration.
Now, as for these beasts washing up on the beach - what drives public enthusiasm is that something far from day to day normalcy comes within plain view, and leads us to start asking questions. No matter how bizarre or far reaching the story becomes within the media, the fact that we are inspired to think about the world just a little bit differently is the important part.
I've observed numerous 'small' anomalous creatures on exploration dives that even my science counterparts have difficulty describing. The fact is that these bigger beasts call a huge part of our ocean home that we [humans] do not have ready access to for the purpose of making firsthand human observation and subsequent documentation. That novelty is much the same as early work here on terra firma in the rain forests, remote desserts, and so on. There remains far more out there that we do not know, than we do know. Frankly, we'll never know it all unless we put ourselves in the environments that afford just a slim chance for discovery. Once the door is open, there is plenty of room for hypotheses and lines of question.
So, when considering the cryptozoology craze, do not dismiss the study in light of Bigfoot and Lochness - the art of inspiring creative thinking, and keeping an open mind for what might be possible will unquestionably lead us to realize what is indeed probable.
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