While Carol Ann Bassett focuses on the current challenges facing the Galapagos Islands and their fragile ecosystem--challenges like overfishing, invasive species, colonists, pollution, and tourism--she also touches on their history and the amazing biodiversity of life found here. It's a well-written and eye-opening book.
Here are some of my favorite Galapagos facts:
- The islands are home to 58 species of birds from flamingoes to penguins, and 27 different kinds of reptiles, including giant tortoises and a cliff-diving marine iguana.
- The islands are moving east towards South America at a rate of 3 inches a year.
- Literary pirate William Dampier visited the islands in 1679 and 1684 and later wrote three best-selling travel books about his travels there.
- Charles Darwin, who visited the islands in 1835, was born on the same day as Abraham Lincoln: February 12, 1809.
- It's the temperature of the nest that determines the sex of turtle hatchlings--if the nest is too hot, it'll be all females; too cool, all males.
- Land tortoises can survive more than a year without drinking.
- Flightless cormorants live here, the only cormorant species in the world that has lost the ability to fly.
- The Galapagos are oceanic islands that straddle the Equator; they are the only oceanic archipelago in the world that still retains 95 percent of its original biodiversity. As Charles Darwin once wrote, the Galapagos "is a little world within itself."