Retired CEO of the Two Oceans Aquarium Dr Patrick Garratt, or just “Dr Pat” to those who have had the privilege of working with him, has just released a new book called Born to Fish: Stories of Young Anglers. This novel follows four youngsters – three boys and one girl – as they journey through their school years, from early primary school to a post-matric gap year. These four youngsters grow up in a small town on the lower south coast of KwaZulu-Natal, where they learn how to fish for various species through changing seasons. 

As with all things in life, they learn through trial and error and from various “elders” whom they meet along the way. The elders play an important part in moulding them into conscientious anglers who are in tune with the environment and mindful of the predicaments facing the oceans and their inhabitants. Dr Pat has done something unique with Born to Fish, in that this book blends fiction with fact. Using this style of writing, young people as well as “older” anglers can get the best of both worlds! They can enjoy reading a novel while learning how to fish and how to care for the oceans. 

Patrick Garratt PhD is a marine biologist, retired CEO of Two Oceans Aquarium and a lifelong fishing enthusiast. In 1994, he was offered the post of curator of the yet-to-be-built Two Oceans Aquarium and came to Cape Town to provide training to a team of young, inexperienced staff in the fields of diving, animal collecting, animal transport and husbandry, and to design and stock the new Aquarium. This was achieved in a record-breaking 18 months, allowing the Aquarium to open to the public in November 1995. He remained curator of the Aquarium until September 2003, when he was appointed CEO after the retirement of Lex Fearnhead. He then steered the Aquarium for 13 years, until 2016, when he retired to spend time writing and surfing on the Cape coast.

Patrick Garratt's memoir is called Crazy: Adventures of a Marine Biologist.

Q&A with Dr Pat

Two Oceans Aquarium: Who taught you how to fish? What do you think the activity has contributed to your life? 

Patrick Garratt: I cannot remember there being anyone in particular. I saw other youngsters fishing and joined them, learning along the way. I had teachers throughout my life and was lucky to have had a dad who liked it (but never loved it as I did) and recognised how important fishing was becoming to me. He fostered the love of fishing in me. In answer to the second question, it has shaped my whole life.

TOA: What in your mind defines a “conscientious angler”?

PG: Someone who is mindful of the beauty and frailty of the environment in which he/she fishes; has great respect for the animals he/she pursues; takes only what he/she needs; and leaves no trace of ever having been anywhere. 

TOA: What do you think young people can gain from taking part in fishing activities? 

PG: The greatest thing by far is that they are drawn close to nature. Fishing has the habit of taking people to the most beautiful parts of the world and it is there that they bond with nature. 

TOA: What do you hope readers will remember or learn from this novel?

PG: I hope that it will re-awaken fond memories of early experiences in the older generations and, in doing so, make them aware of how privileged they were to have fished in a time when oceans and rivers were still bountiful. For both young and old (and all the ones in-between) I hope that the book will instill in readers a greater respect and compassion for the animals they pursue and the environment in which they live. And finally, I hope that all readers will appreciate the wonder of growing up with buddies who share similar interests.  And what will they learn?  Hopefully some of the finer details of catching (and sometimes releasing) many species along our coasts and how keen observation can still result in good catches.

Win a copy of Born to Fish! 

This competition is now closed. The winners are:

  • Kristen Dixon
  • Louise Stevens

Competition terms and conditions

  1. All content sent to the Two Oceans Aquarium as entry into the competition may be used on the Aquarium’s website and associated digital platforms.
  2. Entries close at 24h00 on Friday 19 October 2018.
  3. Winners will be notified on Tuesday 22 October 2018.
  4. To be entered into the lucky draw, the question must be answered correctly.
  5. Two individual winners will be chosen by lucky draw.
  6. Each winner will receive one complimentary copy of Born to Fish.
  7. Representatives of the Two Oceans Aquarium will pick the winner from eligible entries.
  8. Prizes are non-transferable.
  9. Prizes must be redeemed within three months of the date of issue.
  10. The judges’ decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into.
  11. The winners may be required to participate in a photo-taking session during the issuing of the prize.
  12. Pictures may be posted online.
  13. Entry into the competition and acceptance of any prize shall constitute consent on the winner's part to allow the use of the winner's name, image, voice and/or likeness by the Two Oceans Aquarium for editorial, advertising, promotional, marketing and/or other purposes without further compensation except where prohibited by law.
  14. This competition is not open to Two Oceans Aquarium or volunteers and their families.
  15. Anyone who has won a competition or promotion through the Two Oceans Aquarium in the last six months is not eligible to win.
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