In the “pristine” environment of the Galápagos, unique animals have no fear of man because they have never been exposed to the depredations of man. Ancient tortoises, sea lions, rare birds, and iguanas willingly share their lives with tourists, swim with them, or “pose” for photos. Galapagos life–in the tourist brochures, at least–resembles the Eden found by Charles Darwin in 1831. While these images may have been true forty years ago, when small tour boats brought the first tourist-adventurers to the islands, they are far from true now, according to Michael D’Orso, who made a number of visits and spent many weeks on the islands from 1999 – 2002. Located 600 miles from Ecuador, which both claims and governs them, the islands have experienced devastating changes in the past ten years, and some real crises in the past three years. Here D’Orso comments on the crises he’s observed, all of which threaten the very existence of this priceless biological resource and natural laboratory.
Category Archive for 'Ecuador'
“Natives” and “exotics,” terms often used to describe the relationship of plants to their environments, also refers, in this novel, to the characters who populate it, since all of the main characters live in foreign environments which have their own native populations. The Forder family, in the first of three major story lines, is on assignment in Ecuador in 1970, where the father works for the US State Department. In the second section, which takes place in 1929, Violet Clarence (Rosalind Forder’s mother) is living in the bush in Australia, helping clear the land to build a home in the bush. Part III follows a distant relative, a Mr. Clarence, who in 1822 lives in Scotland, though he is not Scottish. He and his foster son George emigrate to St. Michael in the Portuguese Azores. In each of these three story lines, the “exotic,” foreign residents permanently affect the environments in which they live. Alison clearly believes that despoiling a natural environment by removing or adding new plants and/or animals is both dangerous and foolish, no matter how honorable the motives might be.