Island Species: February 2008 Archives
I used to have a tropical fish aquarium. Fresh water - I always found salt water aquariums absolutely beautiful but was intimidated by the amount of work they seemed to require. Not only did I keep this 20 gallon aquarium, I transported it across numerous state lines - with the fish kept "securely" in a big ice chest filled with a few inches of water. Some of my fish moved from Florida to Arizona (2 different locations) and then to California. These trips were quite an ordeal - and not only caused my fish stress, but made me a nervous wreck as well. Keeping those fish alive during the multi-day car trip from Florida to Arizona, as you can imagine, was difficult. And as I have an affinity for ALL animals, letting "just a fish" die, wasn't something I could bear.
In pondering my path to Seacology, I thought about my first venture to a tropical island. It was a month spent on St. Croix in the Caribbean in 1977. I was working for an entertainment company training exotic animals for the movie The Island of Dr. Moreau, starring Burt Lancaster (a living legend in one of his last movies) and Michael York (a fine actor and really nice guy). Based on the novel by H.G. Wells, the sci-fi monster movie was filmed on a spectacular swath of the island privately owned by and leased from the Rockefeller family.
To bring in tigers, lions, bears, and various other exotic animals to the island was an enormous undertaking. We set up a compound in the lush forest about a quarter mile from the beach, where the weather made everyone happy. Since the property was guarded and very secluded, we frequently took the animals for long beach walks ending in a riotous swim in the bath water sea. Paradise, right?