Herman Melville referred to the Galápagos Islands as Las Islas Encantadas in 1856. When I arrived 120 years later and experienced the enchantment of this archipelago, I understood why Melville chose this title for his short story. However, I believe his choice of title was not simply because the islands were thought to disappear in the night—I believe that Melville felt the magic of the Galápagos Islands.
Early sailors proposed that there was an enchantment to the islands—the seamen would mark the isles at dusk off the bow and find them in a completely different location at dawn. Sometimes the islands would appear to have switched places and other times, they had seemingly disappeared into the sea.
While Galápagos remains mysterious, the islands appear to be staying put. The marine life, however, has begun to fade. Recently, I co-authored a paper on the threatened species of Galápagos; as many as one in five of the threatened marine species may be extinct. Despite this, I am hopeful that we can preserve the islands for future generations and if tourism is properly managed, visitors can serve as a force for good.
I am privileged to serve as a naturalist for small groups of travelers who wish to know these islands. These are not superficial visits; they afford the adventurer an opportunity to delve into the mysteries, the complexities and the challenges of one of the great natural wonders of the world. I am thrilled to be accompanied by Greg Estes, a Darwin scholar and leading authority on the natural history of the islands. Join us this June for a comprehensive, eventful, and exciting sojourn to Las Islas Encantadas...the Galápagos Islands.