Potholes – they are everywhere. If a place receives any natural rainfall; over time all kinds of roads develop potholes. Nothing good about them; they cause problems on the road, traffic and even accidents. You walk past them looking at them and wishing they would go away.
Until yesterday; I had the exact same opinion as you. Looking around for a water to sample; and without luck since it was dry spell in Delhi, I decided to sample a little puddle of water (not the one featured above – that’s just a representative pothole) in a pothole close to NSIT campus in Dwarika, Delhi. The one I sampled was significantly smaller. And a whole new world opened to me. Frankly, I was quiet surprised to find a beautiful world of diatoms gliding inside this unassuming, isolated oasis we call a pothole.
This is a classic example of our limited view of where biodiversity resides. It’s also an example of a bias – I had just assumed nothing could be found in a pothole, since it looked like a seemingly isolated patch on the road. I was proven wrong dramatically. In fact, it reminds me of the fact that you can find beauty in places you least expect them.
Next time, I will keep my eyes wide open. I invite you all to go out and sample your surroundings. If we decide to sample waters in our surroundings, we could increase the number of known species of Diatoms by a triple fold. It’s assumed that only one-quarter of all species of Diatoms are known to scientists. When you think about places where scientists have not actually samples extensively, this could potentially be even a larger number.
This is also an invitation to all the @DBTIndia Foldscope workshop participants. Let’s make a list of all places you can find Diatoms. These beautiful and isolated gliding glass houses are something to cherish; so go look out for them.