We All Live in a Yellow Submarine Named Boaty McBoatface

©. University of Southampton/ Boaty McBoatface

The sub with the silly name does real science and generates real excitement.

Last year, this website with the silly ironic name TreeHugger covered the silly and ironic Boaty McBoatface scandal, where the British government asked the public for help renaming a boat that had the not very memorable moniker “Name Of Vessel”.

Name That Whale, Quickly!

© Name that ship! The public demanded Boaty McBoatface but got Sir David Attenborough instead. However, as a sop to the plebes, Her Majesty’s Science Minister dubbed the yellow robot submarine with the popular name and sent it into deep, deep waters where hopefully it would never be seen or heard from again.

evening standard

Bonnie Alter/ The Evening Standard/CC BY 2.0

Instead, Her Majesty’s Science Minister has had to put a brave face on it after Boaty successfully dove to 4,000 meters (2.159 Nautical Miles for American old salts) and did real science, forcing her to admit:

“Fresh from its maiden voyage, Boaty is already delivering new insight into some of the coldest ocean waters on Earth, giving scientists a greater understanding of changes in the Antarctic region and shaping a global effort to tackle climate change.”

Prof Alberto Naveira Garabato from the University of Southampton describes the research in the Guardian:

We have been able to collect massive amounts of data that we have never been able to capture before due to the way Boaty is able to move underwater. Up until now we have only been able to take measurements from a fixed point, but now we are able to obtain a much more detailed picture of what is happening in this very important underwater landscape.

And the story of Boaty McBoatface the Yellow Submarine has spread around the world, whereas had it been just an underwater drone with no name at all, nobody would care very much. But as we learned years ago with the Mr. Splashypants debacle, "Silliness is GREAT for generating engagement."

We often wish that our founder Graham Hill had not picked such a silly name for this website but hey, we’re still here, still generating engagement, so I suppose it’s true.