2022 Audio - Silver

Does it fart?

ABC Science (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)
July 1, 2022

In a savvy episode of its “What the Duck” radio show, ABC Science in Australia took on a topic not often broached in polite circles but one that has intrigued zoologists and others curious about animal behavior―Does it fart? From whales, manatees and herring to chimps, bonobos, Tasmanian devils and hognose snakes, the program provided answers to its central question and discussed the science behind using farts as a means of communication, defense, change in buoyancy for sea creatures, and even predatory advantage in the case of beaded lacewing larvae that expel a chemical mix that paralyzes termites – thus providing the larvae an accessible meal. In some cases, the big question remains. Do spiders fart? There is no clear answer yet, according to Dani Rabbaotti, a zoologist who has co-authored a book on animal farting. The research has not been done, she said. Judge Alexandra Witze, a freelance science writer, said ABC’s entry featured an “offbeat approach to bringing science to the general public — and an impressive collection of documentary sounds.” Judge Tony Bartelme of the Charleston, S.C. Post and Courier called it “a very clever, laugh-out-loud entry that incorporates serious science into a topic that’s relatable to all. Science reporting has never been more important, and this piece is a reminder that creativity and fun are important ways to generate enthusiasm for science journalism.” Producer Petria Ladgrove said the team members “are so excited to accept our first award for our brand-new podcast by ABC Science. The presenter Dr. Ann Jones is delighted to be able to share her wonder, curiosity and discovery around Australian animals and nature with a worldwide audience and the whole team is thrilled to be recognised by the AAAS Kavli Science Journalism Awards.”