Carnivorous Island

Is there a "carnivore island" in real life, and if it's real, where is it?

Expert Answers
beateach eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Although the floating carnivorous island in the Life of Pi is fictitious, there are ecosystems on this earth that are changing so drastically that many carnivorous animals are finding themselves living in smaller and smaller areas. Animals such as wild dogs, wolves, and wolverines are not able to survive in areas where humans are the dominant species. Although these animals are ferocious carnivores, they are forced to live on some of the Earth's most difficult terrain which is becoming more and more fragmented thus being separated into islands that place these species in isolation.

Unfortunately, the future of these carnivorous species can be bleak since they need vast amounts of land area to carry out their hunting. When they are forced to live in small areas, or islands, their survival rate decreases which can tip the scales of ecological balance. Humans play an important role in the survival of these carnivorous animals. Indigenous people must learn to live harmoniously with the species as wildlife experts work to save these animals and their habitats.

It is not uncanny that the symbolism in the Life of Pi includes a tiger, since large cats are dominant carnivorous animals. Pi attempting to survive with a large cat in a small boat is symbolic of just the opposite. The large carnivorous cat is in a position to dominate the human who in reality, by his existence, is the tiger's threat.

thetall eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The carnivore island depicted in the story does not exist and the writer brought this aspect symbolically for the purpose of stimulating the reader’s creativity. Carnivorous algae do exist but not to the extent depicted in the book. There are various types “carnivorous” algae that exist in water ecosystems with some of the species depicting highly predatory aspects such as the Pfiesteria group of algae. This species of algae kills fish and feeds on their flesh. They do this through the release of poisonous substances that incapacitate the fish and begin stripping away the skin; some of these species are known to cause skin lesions in human beings, too.

The idea of a floating island covered by vegetation is also not a farfetched idea. The Keibul Lamjo National Park in India is a good example of floating wildlife as the soggy island is also home to the endangered Manipur brow-antlered deer.

wordprof eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Certainly not, unless you stretch the definition of “carnivore” to include Coral atolls in tropical waters that that shelter schools of fish.  Another model for Martel’s fictional meercat island could be the Sargasso Sea islands of floating vegetation, again the home of many marine species.  Given the symbolic nature of the book, the carnivorous island is more likely the earth itself, a “false haven” for Pi’s little boat, appearing to be a relief from his ordeal, but actually dangerous to his “life” (his soul).  The entire book can be seen as an embodiment of religious/philosophical questions, put into physical form, since Pi spends so much time exploring different formal religions.    

Ada Sison | Student

The carnivore island that Pi encounters in Life of Pi is not real, at least not in our world. The floating carnivorous island made of seaweed and populated by lemurs would not likely exist in the natural world. There could be islands made of volcanic reactions and atolls on Pi's route however.

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Life of Pi

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