Release Date: 07 April, 2003
Manufacturer: University of California Press
List Price: $19.95
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Summary: Excellent book about a pioneering aquarist and his work
This was a truly excellent read - if you are interested in how they make those impressive aquarium displays, how they catch the livestock, overcome the challenges of adapting them to aquarium life and lots of stories along the way, this is the book for you from the man widely acknowledged as being "it" when it comes to designing pioneering public aquaria.
Highly recommended for anyone out there fascinated by fish and the marvellous public aquariums around the world. Enjoy it!
Summary: fascination for fish
David C. Powell provides the reader with an excellent insight into the life experiences of a dedicated biologist. His detailed descriptions and insights of all the efforts that went into sharing his exciting discoveries is a joy to read. For anyone who visits aquariums this is a must read book. It provides rare, behind the scenes, information about the enormous effort and dedication involved in providing public aquarium exhibits. Dave's style has the flavor of Ricketts and Stienbeck all in one.
Summary: Fish Stories -- Fascinating!
If among the things you have to confess you know nothing about are designing, stocking, and running a public aquarium, you can change that and have a darned good time filling in these particular voids. David C. Powell, who knows more about running aquariums than just about anyone, has written a memoir, _A Fascination for Fish: Adventures of an Underwater Pioneer_ (University of California Press) that tells about his unusual career and has more than its share of pleasing anecdotes.
Powell took the first fish he caught as a kid and slept with it under his pillow. He maintained the lobster tank at a fancy Malibu restaurant. When he read Cousteau's first book, _The Silent World_, he knew he had to start diving. As he kept specimens in his home aquarium, he joined the Marine Aquarium Society of Los Angeles. A fellow member told him of a job opening as an aquarist at Marineland of the Pacific; it was just what he wanted to do, and from there he worked at various aquariums, directing the live exhibits at the Monterey Bay Aquarium until retiring four years ago. He now seems to be the most frequently consulted consultant whenever towns or nations want to set up aquariums.
Powell writes with admiration and affection about the creatures he has to capture and then keep in as home-like an environment as possible, including the wonderfully named sarcastic fringehead, the "thumbsplitter" mantis shrimp with its faster-than-the-eye claw, and many more. He tells about the process of capturing samples in many different ways, but diving and capturing fish is the easy part. Transporting them is hard. There are different gadgets and containers that have to be used, including the truck transport named the "Tunabago." It is planning the displays of the fish that obviously has given Powell the most satisfaction in his career. His description, for instance, of the responsibilities of putting up the largest window in the world, a gigantic acrylic pane fifty-five by fifteen feet, thirteen inches thick, and weighing thirty-eight tons, is completely engrossing.
Powell's book, a mixture of autobiography, oceanography, ichthyology, museology, and funny stories, is a delight. In seemingly effortless style, he conveys the excitement even in the minor aspects of his career. He gives a final essay on the importance of aquariums (disdained by Cousteau as "fish prisons") in bringing people closer to nature and in promoting the conservation that could keep the oceans healthy. His book is a worthy summary of a lifetime's effort in that cause.