This blog post isn’t going to discuss science in movies per se, but rather how the public reiterates what they think they’ve learned from movies. Recently an adult came through the STAR Center (Sea Turtle Assistance and Rehabilitation) at North Carolina Aquarium on Roanoke Island (NCARI) asking several interesting questions about our turtles currently undergoing rehabilitation. I was preparing food and feeding one of the turtles so I was only half listening. One of his questions stopped me in my tracks, my jaw dropped, and I stared at him dumbfounded. (luckily his attention was focused on the interpreter and didn’t notice my reaction) I quickly composed myself and surreptitiously listened to the rest of the interaction. I’m going to paraphrase his question but it went something like this; “how long do these guys live? I know it is about 140 years because that is how old the turtle was in the movie Finding Nemo.” Now the interpreter, she was very professional, and handled it great. She told him that oldest verified age is around 80 years but in truth we just don’t know how old turtles live. She told him further study was needed. The customer was happy with her answer but still spoke about that turtle in Finding Nemo being 140.
I’m am not faulting Disney. They are in the business of telling stories and I think that they do an okay job at storytelling. I think that the problem lies in education and mainstream news reporting. Both are equally at fault. There should be a higher level of science taught from kindergarten through college and more kids should be engaged in science. And mainstream news should never get their science reporting from movie stars!