THE LIVING DOCK AT PANACEA by Jack Rudloe

THE LIVING DOCK AT PANACEA

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Panacea is a small coastal town in northwest Florida where Rudloe runs the Gulf Specimen Company, an operation which provides sea life--barnacles and such--to labs all over the country. It's demanding work, heavily dependent on weather and seasonal variations, but Rudloe has the undiminished vigor of the true enthusiast and the gift of sharing that passion in his writing. After nearly ten years on the bay, he is more knowledgeable about marine life and ecosystems than most of the biologists and researchers he supplies; he knows how hurricanes affect the bay, where to dredge for particular species, which fouling organisms accumulate on anchored buoys--hence the ""Living Dock"" where he intentionally cultivates much-requested specimens. As a businessman he must worry over the trawler's faulty engine, discover his dock relocated after a storm, or watch--horrified--as the paint scrapings from his own boat cause fiddler crabs to spasm. But the compensations are splendid--the variety of color and form in the waters, the chance sighting of a rare fish's viviparous birth, hearing the ""lonesome beeping call of the toadfish,"" the occasional fresh shrimp for dinner. Throughout this informal journal, he takes time to ponder the morality of his work and the scientific community he serves and to wrestle with the possibility of depleting the oceans and destroying the environment through carelessness and greed. As in The Sea Brings Forth (1968) and The Erotic Ocean (1971), Rudloe immerses the reader in an alien world of rhinoceros blennies and rose-bud coral with dexterity and zest.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1977
Publisher: Knopf