A Pokémon Trainer is You! XI: Dam It!

Last time, on A Pokémon Trainer Is You:

What do you do next?
– Camp out here so you can investigate the invasive species.

You have other concerns besides continuing your journey.  The evidence you’ve collected suggests that there are non-native species in this habitat, and while that isn’t necessarily a problem per se, you want to rule out any possibility that they might be harming the local ecosystem.  Viridian Forest and Pewter City aren’t going anywhere, and there’s always some chance that the mysterious Viridian gym leader will return in a day or two.  You find a sheltered spot by a small pond and set up to spend the night here.

Do you want to give Wurmple a nickname?
– Let Pokémaniac Chris name it.

As you settle down, you realise you’re going to have to move the Wurmple nesting in your backpack in order to unpack anything.  You pick her up, eliciting only mild protest, and set her down on a smooth stone, still warm from the light of the setting sun.  She burbles appreciatively and watches as you and Scallion lay out your sleeping bag, organise your rations, and hang an awning from a convenient tree in case of rain.  The thought occurs that you should formally “catch” this Wurmple, so you present an empty Pokéball, which she obligingly boops with her snout.  You immediately let her out again, along with Nancy, and give some thought to a name.  Almost immediately, something comes to you, echoing out of the ground.

Aura…

You try saying it out loud.  Aura it is.

Wurmple are like Caterpie.  You don’t really train a Wurmple the way you train other Pokémon; you sort of just feed it and wait.  You’re pretty sure that almost all Pokémon are responsive to affection in one way or another, though, so you make a point of eating together with all three of your new Pokémon and trying to start conversation.  After eating, you rapidly draft a one-page summary of the day’s findings on your Pokédex’s $#!tty generic word processing app while everything is fresh in your mind.  With that done, and the moon now high in the sky, you drift off to sleep, with Scallion, Nancy and Aura all curled up against your sleeping bag.

The next morning, you eat a rushed breakfast of dry, generic-brand protein bars with a strange bitter aftertaste, pack up your things, recall Nancy and Aura to their balls and start poking around.  You get a vague sense of direction based on which valleys had more fallen trees yesterday, so you start following the trail of damaged vegetation.  Your instincts see you straight, and only an hour into the day you find yourself looking down at what must be one of the biggest tributary streams of the river below – reduced to a trickle.  A thicket – no, a wall, a dam – of twigs, bark, branches and even segments of tree trunks, glued together with mud, has been built across the stream, and a large, deep pond is forming behind it.  Soon you begin to spot the ones responsible: a group of small, rotund, quadrupedal Pokémon with slick auburn fur and huge square teeth, carrying bits of wood back and forth around the dam.  You aren’t close enough for the Pokédex to ID them automatically, but you manage to find the relevant entry anyway by typing in a few likely-sounding search terms – Bidoof.  Apparently it’s a semi-aquatic Normal Pokémon, native to the Sinnoh region, far to the north.  Your Pokédex doesn’t know much about them, which isn’t surprising, but it’s clear about one thing: they’re a dam-building species.  What’s more, if those huge teeth are anything like a Rattata’s, they must grow constantly unless they’re worn down by regular use.  The Bidoof are probably compelled by instinct to chew away at tree trunks.

While you screw up your face at the Pokédex’s bare-bones data, Scallion is watching the scene below.  Suddenly he taps your shoulder with a vine and points, not at the dam but at the pond.  You follow his line of sight and see that there are many Pokémon in the pond as well, not all of them Bidoof.  You watch for a while.  There are clearly a lot of Magikarp, you spot several Poliwag, and there’s a Slowpoke camped out at one end of the dam, tail dangling in the water.  Then, all of a sudden… a flash of orange.  You frown and turn back to the Pokédex.  Following a hunch, you ask it about aquatic predators from Sinnoh with orange colouration, and it returns an answer: Buizel, a Pokémon that looks like a brightly coloured, amphibious Furret.  You can’t be certain that was what you saw, but it’s consistent with your suspicions from yesterday.  Two Pokémon that favour similar habitats, both introduced from Sinnoh.  Hmm.

It occurs to you that you’re seeing a new microhabitat, one that doesn’t exist elsewhere in this area.  The deeper water should be good for Poliwag and Magikarp, since it will give them more protection from Spearow.  It’s possible more Poliwag will evolve, given the space.  You assume the Slowpoke will also appreciate the richer fishing territory, although you’ve never actually seen a Slowpoke catch a fish and aren’t quite sure what they eat.  Land Pokémon will gather to drink from the water, and you might even see larger species start to move in.  On the other hand, there are no Goldeen that you can see.  It’s like you already thought: Goldeen are extremely powerful swimmers that can rush upstream against a current, or even up a waterfall, but they can’t jump over dams, at least not like Magikarp can.  Dams like this will restrict their movements and cut groups off from each other.  The local vegetation, and the Bug Pokémon that depend on it, could also suffer from this unfamiliar exploitation.

You scribble all of this into your notes, along with an incredibly $#!tty sketch of the dam and pond, then start chewing your pencil thoughtfully.  You know full well you don’t have any authority to call for action on this, but Professor Oak trained you and will trust your firsthand assessment of the situation.  His recommendation will carry weight with the Pokémon League, maybe even with the regional government.  Whatever you tell him could end up influencing official policy, or at least someone’s research agenda.

2 thoughts on “A Pokémon Trainer is You! XI: Dam It!

  1. Iiiii think the second option isn’t so good with the whole *encourage* the bidoof phrasing? Like, presenting a new microhabitat could be nice, but not by destroying the regular one.

    The bidoof have taken a tributary stream. If they take a bigger hold on the land, they could cause erosion and dry up the river, and sparse plains, river vegetation probably can’t handle a lot of them.

    Yes, upon those further findings it might be reductive to just completely erase the bidoof presence, even if that’s only because of pokémon idealism. But unless those bidoof can settle without damaging the environment at all, it’s gonna be a disaster. We need to not encourage, but *warily monitor* them, let them settle being prepared to take them away.

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    1. Tl;dr: the wording on that second option is too kind for its own good. Pokémon bends biological rules a bit, but a new species that has been causing problems won’t settle in harmoniously by *growing more.*

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