Fish Food

Fish Food

Date sent: Fri, 2 Jul 1999
Subject: father & son jungle adventure

Here is one story from a jungle expedition I had with my father. I worked with him collecting weird marine animals all over the world.

Bungle in the Jungle, by R.Griffis
For fifteen years I worked with my father collecting bizarre marine animals for the New York Zoological Society. This gig started when I was 17. Dad asked me if I wanted to, "go fishing." I said yes before I realized my Dads idea of fishing was hauling three tons of gear into the jungles of Suriname South America. We were hunting freshwater marine animals. I paid my way by being a pack person. A pack person is someone who lugs the stuff out of the sixty foot canoe past the waterfalls on the way up river. This was loads of fun.

The animals we looked for had their own idea of fun. Six foot golden catfish, five foot electric eels, stingrays and piranha had fun laughing at us one night. They saw two Anglo's and two natives pile into one two man canoe. We headed into the swamp searching for Cayman, frogs and snakes. My father though it would be a good learning experience for me. I hunkered down in the light rain as the natives paddled us out into the dark void. A single light was beamed out from our tourch. This light was to catch the reflection of red, blue and green orbs of animals.

They twinkled back at us in place of the stars which were hidden by the misting rain. We caught a rainbow boa. The small snake was the first snatch. She was lifted off a low branch by a pole with a rope loop. The catch was quick. The two foot snake was tagged and bagged. We moved on into a marsh section of a swamp and rested. A pair of Cayman eyes surfaced just to the front and left of the boat. The lead Anglo animal collector moved his pole with skill to snare the animal. In an instant the small gator was in the loop and thrashing about. I wanted to see the struggle so I leaned to look over the lead mans shoulder. The native behind me and his partner behind me wanted a view also. They leaned well over the left side to look past me. As we all leaned to the same side, Murphy's Law came into effect. You know this law as everything goes wrong. The wrong visited us in the form of water. Water entered into the people tank. The Anglo in front could not handle the water and gator so he compensated by leaning to the other side. We followed his lead and water again. This Max Brothers routine went on two more times before we all stood in the two man canoe.

The boat sank. We were four men standing in a sunken two man canoe with a new water line that settled at the Anglos neck lines. Unfortunately the natives were on the small side so they were left treading water. They were also busy cursing in foreign tongues at the stupid white people. I did not speak the tongue I was lashed with. I knew that if those two had found their sunken machete blades the boat would have gone home less two headless Anglos.

So there we were. The people had come into the water to play with the swamp things. The lead Anglo quickly bagged the small Cayman before the bigger ones came to play with us. We stepped out of the sunk boat, brought it to the surface and crawled back into it. I grabbed the boa in the bag as it floated by. The last thing I remember about the trip was my father pulling out some cash and counting it out to the natives for the equipment that was lost.

Richard Griffis Ex-Animal Collector

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