Saturday, February 25, 2006


I have just finished up Journey Of The Pink Dolphins: An Amazon Quest (by Sy Montgomery, Simon & Schuster, New York, 2000), and APPALLED IS NOT THE WORD. I have already had sanctions laid on the operatives who were supposed to be watching her and giving the contents of her new book the old 'fish eye.'

FIRST, I need to tell the rest of you to pick up every copy you can, and keep picking them up as they appear on the shelves of your local stores. Special-order every copy in the warehouses, too. Cash transactions, please. My first thought of course was to have HQ buy every copy, but that would be a little revealing, for one thing, eh wot? For another, you need these copies to read for yourselves, so you can see how easy it is to publish a MAJOR SECURITY BREACH.

SECOND, we need to see that as few of these as possible make it into the home libraries of the landscum. This was a very difficult decision to make, because frankly I like the book and its strong message about preserving the fauna and flora of the Amazon Basin. It’s well-written, too, actually very hard to put down. For this reason I can’t begrudge Montgomery the considerable financial outlay of seeing to it that we maintain control of every copy. She gets as close as any shaved monkey could to fathoming our aquatic consciousness.

But there’s the rub, girls; she reveals FAR, FAR TOO MUCH about our projects, especially the way our operatives bring in new recruits. I mean, Holy Mackerel! I went through it with some of those tape flags, and in just the first half I found TEN (10) exact descriptions of the way the local operatives bring in new converts.

Montgomery relates one conversation after another between operatives and their prospective new recruits. In one case I was able to identify the operative, one I’ve known personally for years. OK, we knew that the local people have been keeping track of this activity forever, but they’ve pretty much taken it in stride and kept it quiet. THEY WANT TO JOIN US. Only now, in the Information Age, is somebody writing it down and putting into a mainstream paperback form that people are ACTUALLY GOING TO BUY AND READ. This would be more than fine if we were sure every reader was a willing recruit. SUCH IS NOT THE CASE. I am obviously much more tolerant of obscure anthropology texts full of disinformation that few read, and fewer bother to remember after they pass their midterms.

Montgomery also describes aquatic species that I, personally, was not in favor of revealing just yet to the general public. There is a different Zone Leader in charge of the operatives of the Amazon Basin, but Montgomery comes from MY territory and thus she is MY responsibility. This is what insty-kwik global travel capability and widespread literacy have done for us! Gripe, gripe, gripe, I know. Sometimes the disadvantages of modernity overwhelm me.

Our security leak describes the actual sales technique of our most successful operatives in the Basin, known locally as Botos or Bufeo colorado.

She describes the romantic liaisons between the Pink Dolphins and the Pink Monkeys they are working to infiltrate, and the children born of those liaisons.

She even describes our Lairs. "Those who visit never want to leave, because everything is more beautiful there," she says on page 18, and it gets worse from there, believe me.

Does anyone but me see the problem here?

You should also read it, ladies, for the graceful, highly-descriptive writing and the vivid images of a place many of us will never get a chance to visit. It’s a wonderful biodiversity spree for someone like me in the Great Lakes area, who’s pretty much restricted to hobnobbing with the Muskellunge, Sturgeon, and Walleye. In this book we have not only the familiar Piranha and Aruana -- available even in pet stores, right here in the frozen wastes of Michigan! -- but delightful fish such as the Tambaqui, like an immense Piranha, only with teeth just like a human’s. One specimen you’ll never see in the pet stores is the adorable little Candiru, or Pencil Catfish, with his impish sense of humor and startling method of infiltrating new recruits.

Let’s not forget the Pirarucu, a silvery, tarponlike eight-footer that poses a question for those who would understand us. She answers the question at the same time, by choosing to breathe surface air rather than using gills.

The book ranges widely over common and rare plant life, insects, mammalia, fungi, reptiles and birds, even touching on previous geological ages when proto-whales had flippers in front and hooves behind. This book is full of fun stuff like that.

The current crop of new, 'Generation X' recruits in particular need to read more natural history and generally bone up on what’s going on in the world, especially as it applies to conservation and wetland management and so on. Someday that will be your home, and WHO DO YOU WANT RUNNING IT? I want you to read this book for all these reasons. Life isn’t all video games, you know. Oh, you DIDN’T know? See what I mean? You need to read up, kiddo.

Another thing I like about this book is the way it gives me hope that the Naked Apes, in many cases, are really worth re-absorbing into the Piscine Collective Consciousness. This woman would make a terrific operative, even a Pod leader. Unfortunately, the DNA transfer just didn't take. That's the way the cookie crumbles, I guess.

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