On the evening of Wednesday, 29 August 2012, the Two Oceans Aquarium was filled with fans, friends and supporters for the launch of Two Oceans Aquarium Managing Director Dr Patrick Garratt’s memoirs, Crazy: Adventures of a Marine Biologist. If you think the road to the Aquarium was a fairly conventional one, think again … Dr Pat’s journey has been nothing short of amazing.
The MC for the evening was Les McDonald. Outdoor enthusiast and writer (and the man responsible for Dr Pat’s fly-fishing schooling) Tim Rolston was asked to interview Dr Pat during the evening’s proceedings, which included readings by Dr Pat and his wife, Alice Ashwell.
Tim asked Dr Pat: “Do you consider yourself lucky?” to which Dr Pat responded: “Extremely lucky.” Dr Pat went on to share an anecdote about his meeting with a clairvoyant at an airport.
“At times I’ve had pretty unnerving situations, and one of those unnerving situations was sitting at an airport minding my own business, when this little lady kept staring at me…” The little lady was a psychic and she made profound observations about Dr Pat’s life, including that he had six guardian angels.
“It’s taken six angels and all their might to keep me here,” said Dr Pat to the attentive crowd in front of the I&J Predator Exhibit. From being charged by a marlin to spending 22 hours at sea after a boat he was on capsized, Dr Pat’s had more than his fair share of close, dangerous encounters … And he lives to tell the tale!
Tim went on to ask Dr Pat about his proudest achievement. “Going into commercial fishing,” said Dr Pat. It was an against-all-odds kind of situation. “Here was this young guy who failed matric and got thrown out of university …
“I was just finishing my degree when I informed my young wife that I wanted to get into commercial fishing. It was one of the best things I did with my life. It taught me a great deal and gave me strength that I didn’t know I had.”
It was actually Dr Pat’s wife Alice who encouraged him to write his life story down at his 60th birthday party a couple of years ago. Alice also acted as adviser and proof-reader during the 18 after-hours months that it took Dr Pat to put everything down on paper.
Tim asked Dr Pat whether there was one event that made him change from ocean exploiter (commercial fisherman) to ocean protector (aquarist and eventually curator at Durban’s aquarium).
“It was a natural progression,” said Dr Pat. “At a young age I came across Jacques Cousteau and his amazing movies … Nobody knew much about underwater life back then. He seemed to lead an absolutely terrific lifestyle.”
“At about the age of 12, I decided I wanted to do something worthwhile with my life. And that meant getting into either research or education.”
“I was absolutely blown away by the world of aquariums,” continued Dr Pat. “It’s a mix of science, techonology and art. An aquarium is the best place in the world to work.” This comment was met with much applause on the evening!
Tim asked Dr Pat about some of the current opportunities in ocean conservation, and about the threats facing the big blue. “The bottom line is that there is just too many of us,” said Dr Pat, “and too few resources. But we can’t lose sight of the fact that we just have to keep trying. Our job is to keep those spirits up and to get the good messages and then broadcast them.”
Tim wanted to know what Dr Pat’s future plans entailed. “In this aquarium and marine biology life, you don’t just stop. I don’t know where it’s all going, but I never plotted to be where I am now.”
“I was brought up in a family with a very good work ethic, I was trained well, and I worked as hard as I could. For anyone with that combination, doors open. Whichever direction you look to, there are more opportunities.”
Said Tim: “All of us can only have dreamt to have had a life as diverse as Pat has, if not a little less risky!”
An emotional and inspiring evening was rounded off by delicious warm soup and drinks, as well as colleagues and friends gathering to celebrate a truly inspiring life lived to the fullest. Dr Pat, we salute you!
To get hold of a copy of Crazy, please email Alice Ashwell on email@example.com.