Galapagos at the Crossroads

Pirates, Biologists, Tourists, and Creationists Battle for Darwin’s Cradle of Evolution

As eloquent as it is alarming, Carol Ann Bassett’s portrait of today’s Galápagos depicts a deadly collision of economics, politics, and the environment that may destroy one of the world’s last Edens.

For millions, the Galápagos Islands represent nature at its most unspoiled, an inviolate place famed for its rare flora and fauna. But soon today’s 30,000 human residents could surpass 50,000. Add invasive species, floods of tourists, and unresolved conflicts between Ecuadorian laws and local concerns, and it’s easy to see why the Galápagos were recently added to UNESCO’s World Heritage in Danger list.

Each chapter in this provocative, perceptive book focuses on a specific person or group with a stake in the Galápagos’ natural resources—from tour companies whose activities are often illegal and not always green, to creationist guides who lead tours with no mention of evolution, from fishermen up in arms over lobster quotas, to modern-day pirates who poach endangered marine species.

Bassett presents a perspective as readable as it is sensible. Told with wit, passion, and grace, the Galápagos story serves as a miniature model of Earth itself, a perfect example of how an environment can be destroyed– and what is being done to preserve these islands before it’s too late.

Reviews

“A modern portrait of the islands… as tourists, fishermen, and immigrants exact their toll on the fragile ecosystem.” —Conservation Magazine (Society for Conservation Biology)

“A fantastic tutorial for anyone curious about the natural and human health of the island state today.” — Jon Bowermaster, filmmaker, photographer, and writer

“An outstanding saga of a threatened ecosystem…specific and revealing … a ‘must’ for any library serious about science and ecological issues.” — Midwest Book Review

“Portrays today’s Galapagos caught in a deadly vortex of interests that may destroy one of the world’s last Edens.”
— Broadway Books

“Explores the changing landscape of one of the most interesting and biologically diverse ecosystems on Earth.”
Willamette Week

“If you are looking for an example of the battle between the natural environment and human encroachment, this book provides the perfect case.”
— The Andersen Library Blog

“A vivid, lyrical account of natural wonders and growing threats…invasive species, illegal fishing, political corruption, lack of education, eco-tourism.” — The Denver Post

“Bassett … uses science, journalism and personal story to illuminate a species … as a barometer for how the planet is faring.” — The Register-Guard

“Absorbing and convincing…” — The News-Reporter

“…could have easily been called Galápagos in the Crosshairs. She makes a passionate case for the preservation of these islands.” —American Scientist 

“Takes a hard look at the real story: Due to a number of modern-day issues, the islands are in jeopardy.” —Cosis.net