"A Naturalist in Florida": an update

By Joan Herrera

In April of 1996, several members of the Aucilla River Prehistory Project crew assisted WUFT filmmakers Dennis Gaston and Dennis Ogle in reenacting scenes from the life of local and international naturalist, and author, Dr. Archie Carr. This television documentary, produced by Letitia Langord, based on Dr. Carr’s literary work “A Naturalist in Florida: A Celebration of Eden”, aired in November, and during WUFT’s funding drive in December, of 1997 on UF’s channel five. The film is reported to have done very well during this drive to support public programming on this station. Additional prints of the film are in production and will be made available to other PBS and APS stations in the state of Florida and around the southeast. Watch for it to air on your local station.

Archie Carr was a Professor of Zoology at the University of Florida and headed the Archie Carr Center for Sea Turtle Research. He was also a world renowned naturalist and the author of many scholarly articles and popular books. The Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge is located just south of Melbourne. Many of Dr. Carr’s popular works are available in local bookstores. His work, “A Naturalist in Florida: A Celebration of Eden” is the basis of the documentary and tells of his experiences of over 60 years of roaming through natural Florida. Filming for the special was conducted at various wild areas around the state, including the Everglades, Cork Screw Swamp, Melbourne Beach, the Rainbow River, and Ichetucknee Springs.

Aucilla River Prehistory Project members participating in this project included Dr. S. David Webb, Joe Latvis, Andy Hemmings, Lance Carlson, and Joan Herrera. Dr. Webb portrayed Dr. Carr skindiving in local spring runs, discovering mammoth and mastodon teeth, and other fossils, among shoals of waving rivergrass. Joe Latvis filmed underwater sequences, while Andy, Lance, and I provided dive support.

A preview of the film was presented during events surrounding the awarding of the Archie Carr medal on November 12, 1997. Cast and crew members were invited to the preview reception. Dr. Webb, Joe, and I attended and enjoyed viewing the completed documentary and expressing our congratulations to the filmmakers. We were pleased to learn that Marjorie Carr, Archie’s wife and his life’s partner, was able to view the documentary prior to her death last year. Through his writing and teaching Dr. Carr inspired an entire generation of naturalists.