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Packing for the International Aquarium Congress, Continued….


David Manwarren aquariumBy David Manwarren

Boy was I lucky.  I procrastinated on going with Safari Professionals, could I  afford it; would I lose too much time at work;  would I enjoy waking up early in the morning (I am not a morning person) to try to see a bunch of  animals that are in a different sea otterstime zone then me.  The list goes on and on.  So by the time I realized that if I didn’t set up the safari I would be getting a divorce, the group was full. 

After telling our fearless leader – Dennis Thorny of Vancouver Aquarium – my dilemma, he said he would check to see if they could fit in two more people.  I also then sent an email to Tom LaRock (president of Safari Professionals) to basically beg and make him feel guilty about breaking up my marriage.  The fact that in July, Jean and I are celebrating our 40 anniversary, must have hung heavy on Tom’s mind.  Also the fact that I have known Tom since 1988, when he was in charge of the Zoo Society of the Birmingham Zoo helped out.  He has been trying to get Jean and me on a Safari for over 15 years now, and he was able to come up with arrangements for us.  So the good news is my marriage is saved for another few weeks, and I sure we will have a great time with the group. 

So what I recommend, to everyone going to the International Aquarium Congress (IAC) this year is be sure to take advantage of extra events provided by the IAC or your own travel agent.  Why go all that way and not go on a great white dive or a safari.   Most of us will never get that chance again.

On another note, I have a couple of pet peeves that seem to be bothering me more and more, as they get worse and worse. 

Being that aquariums seem to be our specialty, it bothers me to search the web to find out that there seem to be over 8, 000 or so companies that are the topshark aquarium aquarium builders in the world!  Companies with little or no experience can produce very good web sites and appear to be huge organisations with 80 years of experience.  Some of these web sites are really ridiculous if you know anything about the people involved.  Suddenly 1 year of maintance work is equal to 25 years of experience. 

It’s particularly bad when looking at which projects these companies are claiming credit for.  There are 4 or 5 companies claiming various major aquarium projects; at best the truth is that they might have had one employee who worked on that project.  The worst however is the companies showing pictures of other people’s work.  I am constantly finding that pictures of projects we did years ago now end up on competitor’s web sites.  

There is very little we can do, other than threaten them with law suits, in which case the lawyers win.  It wouldn’t be so bad if the general public would check on references, but that almost never happens.  Just recently, I was bidding against several companies for a major international project.  I had never heard of several of the companies so I did a web search of the seven that I didn’t know.  Two companies had almost no pictures on their websites but claimed several projects that I know for a fact they had no part in, because they were our projects.  Three of the companies had lots of pictures, but most of the pictures were projects not only done by us, but many done by the old Larson Company and the disbanded Rock and Waterscape Systems.  I guess if you don’t have the experience just fake it! 

Well I think I have written enough.  Maybe next month I will finish my other pet peeves, or maybe we can be constructive and write about some of the projects that we are doing.   Maybe I’d better get that booth before I forget.


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