Underwater Adventure

Bookshelf: Underwater Adventure

Underwater Adventure – Willard Price

Underwater Adventure
Underwater Adventure

I’m on a Willard Price binge at the moment – he’s an author of children’s fiction who wrote a series about a pair of adventurous brothers, Hal and Roger Hunt, travelling the world to capture animals for their father’s zoo. I read the series as a child and am revisiting it now.

Mr Price’s knowledge of diving improved slightly between Cannibal Adventure and this effort, but is still quite amusing.

The boys are moored in Truk lagoon, capturing (with incredible ease) creatures for aquariums around the world. They are also hunting for a shipwreck. While using an underwater sled to search for the wreck, Roger undergoes depth and pressure changes so widely varied (hundreds of feet – I kid you not) as to cause a serious case of the bends and/or nitrogen narcosis in any normal human being.

The wreck penetration episodes (yes, they find it) are curious indeed. There is no mention of  a reel at any point, and the boys climb stairs, and stand in various rooms as if they’re on land. A marine archaeologist reading this would have a conniption – they loot a three hundred year old wreck with crowbars and scant regard for its value as a relic in situ. The figurehead and other carvings are prised off the superstructure of the wreck to be taken to a museum in America.

All marine creatures are the enemy, sinister and malevolent with intent to kill. A giant octopus is described as a “brute” (favourite word of Mr Price) and a “monster”, and attempts to bite Roger’s head off with its vicious beak. The sharks they encounter are without fail desperate man-eaters, determined to get a taste of flesh at any cost. (The quote on the cover of the book – “never trust sharks” – conveys the extent to which evil intent is ascribed to these creatures in the book.)

The lagoon is depicted as a hostile environment filled with hungry marine life just waiting to maim or kill the human visitors. This isn’t my experience of the ocean, and despite the damage done by Jaws and its ilk, anyone who has spent time in the sea and interacting with its creatures will agree with me.

Get the book here if you’re in South Africa, otherwise go here. It’s an entertaining read, despite my complaints! If you read it with your kids, be sure to explain how the reality is different from what Willard Price depicts.

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Lapsed mathematician, creator of order, formulator of hypotheses. Lover of the ocean, being outdoors, the bush, reading, photography, travelling (especially in Africa) and road trips.

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