Take A Trip Into A Mine And Surround Yourself With Bats
RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:
Extreme horror, of course, but what would Halloween be without bats? NPR science correspondent Christopher Joyce takes us along on a bat adventure.
CHRISTOPHER JOYCE, BYLINE: I went with my audio engineer buddy Bill McQuay to an abandoned copper mine in the upper peninsula of Michigan to get the sound of bats in their hibernaculum.
BILL MCQUAY: It was part of MORNING EDITION's Radio Expeditions series about the natural world and what we found out was bats had taken up residence in a very deep abandoned copper mine.
JOYCE: So we joined some scientists who were going down into these mines, rappelling down on ropes. What they were doing was finding which mines the bats were in and covering over the entrances with these big metal grates.
MCQUAY: Those grates would keep people out, but the bats could come and go as they pleased.
JOYCE: Steve Smith, a local guy, roped us up and Bill went down first, about 30 feet below on a ledge and then I followed and I thought this was going to be easy.
STEVE SMITH: Check your carabiner, make sure it's shut. Make sure your harness is doubled back. That way, you won't fall out of it.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: OK, coming down.
JOYCE: Halfway down, I make a beginner's mistake. There are big, loose rocks clinging to the wall. I step on one.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: Rock. Holy [bleep]. Run, run, run.
SMITH: You all right? It only takes one rock to really ruin your day.
JOYCE: I'm so sorry about that, Bill.
MCQUAY: Yeah and after all that, we didn't even find any bats in that mine.
JOYCE: The next day though, we got lucky. It was another mineshaft and it was pitch black, lots of water dripping from the ceilings and we found this huge cavern. And there on the ceiling, hanging in these big clumps were thousands of bats.
MCQUAY: Here's where you need to lean in and listen. We remixed these pieces in 3-D sound so if you can, listen with stereo headphones. It'll make you feel you're really there.
MONTAGNE: That's NPR's Christopher Joyce and Bill McQuay of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. You can listen to their remastered 3-D recording of bats at npr.org/batsounds.
This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.
DAVID GREENE, HOST:
And I'm David Greene.
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