IBJOpinion

BASILE: Following in the footsteps of Darwin in the Galapagos

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share
Frank Basile

Over the next few months, celebrations will be taking place honoring the 200th anniversary of Charles Darwin's birth. These will culminate Nov. 24, the 150th anniversary of the publication of his famous book, "On the Origins of Species by Means of Natural Selection." Indianapolis had its own Happy 200th Birthday Party for Charles Darwin (along with Abraham Lincoln) back in February. Birthday cake was served and films celebrating these two men ran continuously.

While films are great (and I never argue with cake), there's nothing like following the wildly influential thinker's own footsteps, which I had the pleasure of doing by visiting the beautiful, mysterious, isolated and enchanted Galapagos Islands.

With their lunar-like black and ashen lava slopes and white and red and black sand beaches, these islands constitute Darwin's famous "living laboratory" of strange, exotic, otherworldly animals and birds. (For the record, the islands were discovered not by Darwin but by a drunken Spanish priest who drifted there by mistake in 1535.)

The islands, which have been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, were never attached to the South American mainland, so the animals and plants adapted to the conditions of the islands, not the continent. Their uniqueness stems largely from their geographic isolation.

About half of the islands' plants and practically all of its reptiles are not found anywhere else in the world. It is a unique oasis for diversity in exotic plant and animal life, including the dinosaur-like lizards and birds in various stunning colors. We walked among the penguins, flamingos, albatross, the Galapagos turtle and blue-footed boobies while learning more about them than we ever cared to know.

We went onto several of the islands in both dry landings and wet landings. In a dry landing, we stepped from the dinghy onto rocks or a dock. In a wet landing, as the dinghy edged onto a sandy beach, we stepped into knee-deep water and waded ashore.

There were several options for our sightseeing, such as observation of the submarine life from a glass-bottom boat, swimming, snorkeling, dinghy rides or short walks. Because the walks were usually over lava rocks, all passengers had to be in good physical condition to thoroughly enjoy the excursions. In fact, all passengers over a certain age had to produce a statement from their physician stating that they were in good health prior to being booked for the cruise.

The total population of the four inhabited islands (including Santa Cruz Island, home to the Charles Darwin Research Station) is about 40,000. There are nine uninhabited islands, which are free of human intrusion with nothing to mar the natural vistas and landscapes, such as billboards and buildings.

The ships that ply these waters are not your typical cruise ship. For example, our ship, the Santa Cruz, with 48 cabins, had no casino, entertainment, dancing, piano bar or midnight buffet. Instead, there were scholarly lectures on all aspects of the land and the plant and animal life and Darwin's research along with a library crammed with technical books on these subjects. The people on these cruises are there to learn, explore and marvel, not to party.

All flights to the Galapagos Islands depart from two cities in Ecuador. The flights are closely controlled by the government and no one is allowed on without being booked on an authorized cruise and under the auspices of a licensed naturalist guide. Strict adherence to these regulations has enabled the islands to stay in pristine condition, unlike many other tourist destinations.

The challenge is to protect the unique and fragile ecosystem by placing reasonable restraints on tourism while providing adequate access for visitors and the locals who accommodate them. They appear to be successful in maintaining this balance.

That Darwin would recognize these islands after more than 150 years is a good, almost miraculous, thing.
_____

Basile is an author, professional speaker, philanthropist, community volunteer and retired executive of the Gene B. Glick Co. Basile can be reached at Frank_ Basile@sbcglobal.net.

ADVERTISEMENT

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
ADVERTISEMENT

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
 
Subscribe to IBJ
  1. Angela IS the best RD

  2. We are a nation of speed. All of our younger lives are filled with deadlines, quotas and bottom lines. We start to ease out of the pressured rat-race when we finally see "retirement." The most enjoyable travel on the planet is passenger rail service. Indy to Chicago does not beat Megabus or Southwest Airlines in speed. Passenger rail however has the best seating, mammoth legroon, seat backs that recline to more than 45 degrees and employers that really want you to return as a customer. Indiana municipalities need to maintain subsidies to support this transportation mode. Losing it is loss for all of us.

  3. Good day! I just want to testify how i got my loan from Mr. Eric Lefkofsky after i applied several times from various loan lenders who claimed to also testify right in this forum,i thought the testimonies where real and i applied but they never gave me loan. I was in need of an urgent loan to start a business and i applied from various loan lenders who promised to help but they never gave me the loan. Until a friend of mine introduce me to this popular Mr. Eric Lefkofsky who promised to help me and indeed he did as he promised without any form of delay. I never thought there are still reliable loan lenders until i met Mr. Eric lefkofsky who indeed helped me with the loan and changed my belief. I promised to share this testimony after I got my loan. I don't know if you are in any way in need of a genuine and urgent loan,free feel to contact Mr. Eric Lefkofsky via their email{grouponfunding@hotmail.com}

  4. Its a THUG issue. Bleecker Street and NYX are thug bars. They attract thugs of all races. Places that attract thugs need to be kicked out of Broad Ripple. Ain't nobody got time for that!

  5. Hello everyone, My name is Marian Gareth, I am from the Texas, United State, am here to testify of how i got my loan from Mr Andre Frank {frankloancompany@yahoo.com} after i applied Two times from various loan lenders who claimed to be lenders right in this forum,i thought their lending where real and i applied but they never gave me loan. I was in need of an urgent loan to start a business and i applied from various loan lenders who promised to help but they never gave me the loan.Until a friend of mine introduce me to Mr Andre Frank the C.E.O of Andre Frank Loan Company who promised to help me with a loan of my desire and he really did as he promised without any form of delay, I never thought there are still reliable loan lenders until i met Mr Andre Frank, who really help me with my loan and changed my lief for better. I don't know if you are in need of an urgent loan, free feel to contact Mr Andre Frank on his email{ Frankloancompany@yahoo.com} for help

ADVERTISEMENT