Translator: Nyoi-Bo Studio Editor: Nyoi-Bo Studio
Li Du had previously estimated that the island covered an area of approximately 50 to 60 square kilometers. In reality, the territory turned out to be larger. The island spanned a total of 88 square kilometers and was medium-sized.
However, even for that size, the price was still considered very high.
On one of the island listing websites, there had been an island that spanned 250 square kilometers. It was for sale at 150 million.
At first, Li Du had his doubts. Why was he buying a smaller island in a less central location at a higher price?
The governor had responded to his questions. First, that island he saw listed, Basel Island, was barren. Hence, despite its considerably large territory, nobody was willing to purchase it even though it had been listed for ten years.
Second, that list price was from ten years ago. The government would have to re-evaluate the price if someone wanted to purchase it now. It would cost at least 300 million Australian dollars.
However, it seemed to them that Basel Island would not be sold off anytime soon. Although it had been priced at 150 million, nobody had even made a purchase inquiry. Hence, it was unlikely they would increase the price to three hundred million.
Besides, the island that Li Du purchased did not have that bad of a location.
It was southeast of Australia. Although it was very, very far from Antarctica, it was the only major island en route to the Antarctic waters. Hence, the island had the potential to become one of the major stops for people heading towards the Antarctic.
Many of the leading countries in the world had been trying to develop Antarctica. Every year, countless scientific research ships were sent to the Antarctic. Due to the climate of the Antarctic, its geography, and many other factors, ships would have to go through designated routes to arrive at the southernmost continent.
Among all the routes, two approached the Antarctic from the west. One began from Cape Town in South Africa and led to Mount Bouvier. Then, it entered the continent from Port Elizabeth through Prince Edward Island.
If someone did not take the New Zealand or Australian route towards the Antarctic, they would travel from Hobart and then through the Macquarie Island.
Seagull Island was northeast of Hobart. Ships would have to pass the island to reach Hobart. Hence, if Li Du could develop the island, the routes might be changed. The ships would not have to take a detour to Hobart to get to Antarctica, which would save time.
However, that plan could only be put into action a long time from now. Li Du’s priority was to develop the island for its opals.
His plan would require another huge sum of money. The city closest to Seagull Island, Herrick City, was hundreds of kilometers away. To replenish his resources, Li Du would need to use airplanes and ships on a regular basis.
Li Du’s Mil Mi-8 would be sufficient for flights. However, he now needed a cargo ship to transport some of the construction materials.
That was what he had negotiated for with Tasmania. He had requested that they give him support.
Brusno had agreed and mobilized a thousand-ton cargo ship for Li Du to use. For the next year, Li Du would be able to use it without paying a fee.
The Tasmanian and Australian governments were happy to support Li Du in developing the island. They needed a success story. While the real estate industry was thriving, the island trading market remained neglected.
In the 20th century through the start of the 21st century, the island trading market had been robust. Many rich people were interested in islands and wanted to own one.
Later, along with the Mexican financial crisis, the Asian financial crisis, and the US subprime mortgage crisis, rich people became more cautious and careful with their money. Hence, the island trading market started to cool.
Seagull Island was the largest to have been sold for the past ten years in the entire world. It was also sold for the highest price. Naturally, it would become an ideal case study for others.
If the island became well developed, perhaps it could rile up the interest in island trading again. After all, the last financial and mortgage crises had happened over ten years ago. The rich might now be more willing to purchase islands again.
The greatest problem on Seagull Island was that there were numerous sea snakes around it. Of course, this disadvantage was offset by the huge amount of opal on the island.
Li Du disliked snakes. He did not wish to spend a huge sum to buy an island and even more money to develop it to realize that there were snakes all over the island.
Australia valued the environment, and economic developments were to be coupled with environmental consciousness.
However, Seagull Island was at a great distance from the mainland and Tasmania. There were few people around. Hardly anyone would take notice of the island, and Li Du knew that the government would not protest if he were to relocate the snakes.
In terms of the snake problem, the Tasmanian government was willing to provide support. That was because they were worried that Li Du would mercilessly kill the snakes to get rid of them.
Snakes were common in all parts of Australia. As the continent’s inhabitants had been battling snakes for hundreds of years, they were experienced and had many ways to deal with the reptiles.
The Tasmanian government had arranged for the Animal Bureau and the Reptile Protection Association to help Li Du banish the sea snake colony through biological and acoustic methods.
The biological method consisted of planting Ramie plants all over the island. The sea snakes hated the smell of those plants and would presumably leave.
The acoustic method was to select some locations on the island to install sound wave makers. Snakes were far more sensitive to sound waves than humans were. The sound wave makers could continuously emit sound waves that would be unnoticed by humans but intolerable to snakes, driving the latter away.
There was also another method, which involved soaking bird eggs in a hormone solution. Sea snakes consumed food in a single swallow. Hence, a research institute in Australia had invented the method to deal with vipers.
The bird’s egg would be soaked in liquid, which would not be poisonous but simply a drug solution rich in progesterone and androgen. Once the snake swallowed it, it would lose its ability to reproduce.
That was a key method that the Australian government had been advocating to deal with snakes. However, the Animal Protection Bureau and the conservationists criticized it severely.
The drug worked upon the principle of dealing with female snakes. It would cause female snakes to lose the desire to mate by inhibiting ovulation and changing the mucus of the snake gonads.
Even if the snakes mated, due to a large amount of progesterone that remained in their bodies, the blastocyst would not be able to survive. The hormones could change the way the female snake’s fallopian tubes functioned, hindering the delivery of fertilized eggs. That method was very powerful and could kill an entire region of snakes so that they might become extinct.
Some organizations had found those methods cruel and criticized the government. As nobody cared about Li Du’s island, however, he was free to engage in those methods.
Li Du brought people over to Seagull Island on the yacht. Following behind the yacht was a huge cargo ship that ferried construction equipment and instruments for capturing the local snakes.
After the purchase of Seagull Island went through, Li Du rang up Steve. After all, Steve had supported him greatly through the entire process.
A lady with a gentle voice picked up the phone and said, “Mr. Tussenberg has left America. If there’s anything you wish to convey, please leave me a message and I will take care to pass it on.”
Li Du was vexed as he did not know where Steve had gone. In any case, he did not have any urgent matters to discuss, so he hung up after leaving his name with the secretary.
Just as the group arrived at the newly bought island, the satellite phone on the yacht rang. It was Steve, and he shocked Li Du with his words. “Hey Li, I’m in Antarctica…”