This book clearly deserves more than five stars. It contains much better photographs of the geology, and plant and animal life in the Galapagos than I have seen any where else. The images here evoked memories of my trip to the Galapagos, and exceeded those memories in revealing the underlying nature of the islands. Further, the essays are extremely good in explaining what is portrayed. Only 60,000 people visit the Galapagos each year, but the islands are suffering from their visits and the growth in permanent population. Hopefully, this book is not preserving something that you will never see.
Ms. De Roy brings a special sense to these photographs, having moved to the Galapagos at the age of 2 and lived most of her life there. She learned to be a photographer working on scenes such as these. This gives her a knowledge of where to go, what to look for, and when to be there. Many of the images capture rare moments and scenes that you could miss during 100 trips to the Galapagos.
Her images are always colorful, stunning in their contrasts, dynamic, and inspiring. I felt overwhelmed by many of the images. It was like looking into the face of God, to me.
The Galapagos Islands are part of Equador, and are located several hundred miles west of the South American coast. You get there by flying first to Equador. I recommend Quito as your way point. There's much to see there.
The islands are volcanic, being the tops of shield volcanos (much like those in Hawaii). They are desert islands which receive little water except during the rainy season. Each island is separated by enough water that species have developed differently on their unique habitats.
Darwin first chronicled this with his visit in the 1850s over 5 weeks in which he noticed that the finches had developed beaks to reflect the food supply on their respective islands. For more on this, be sure to read the outstanding book, The Beak of the Finch, that describes experimental measurements taken on the evolution in the finches. Many call the islands, "a natural laboratory of evolution" as a result.
The photographs are organized around themes related to the type of natural environment. In these images you will see the desert islands, volcanic eruptions, giant tortoises, sea turtles, marine and land iguanas, Darwin's finches, flamingos, pelicans, all kinds of boobies, penguins, cacti, owls, rails, flycatchers, albatrosses, gulls, frigate birds, storm petrels, sea lions, crabs, herons, hawks, flightless cormorants, fish, sharks, dolphins, orcas, sperm whales, and coral.
Many of the animals are extremely colorful, having no natural enemies in the Galapagos. Color helps in mating, and you will see mating rituals well catalogued here. Some of the evolutonary adaptations are fascinating too. For example, the marine iguanas live from drinking sea water and are able to exude the excess salt through their skin.
After you see these images, I suspect you'll agree with this quote from the essays.
"Galapagos is perhaps the only great natural paradise remaining in the world in a near pristine condition."
Ask yourself what you can do to help the Galapagos. Reading this book, and realizing the treasure the world has there is a good starting point. Sponsoring environmental activities there is another. Encouraging others to do the same is a third. I'm sure you will come up with your own ideas that will be better than mine.
May our children in generations to come continue to benefit from a pristine Galapagos!