Monday, October 8, 2012

The Idea of Galapagos

PHOTOGRAPHER'S JOURNAL:  If you have thought about Galapagos at all, it is likely that before it was a place, it was an idea. As I have read and thought about it for a little while, the idea has become more distinct and multifaceted. First came the name and its reference to sentient creatures, the tortoises who some think may live as much as 500 or 1000 years. That is long enough for all of Mayan, Aztec, and Inca civilizations to have come and passed. That is one scale on which I measure my Galapagos.

Despite strong evidence to the contrary, my Galapagos is a pristine archipelago set far apart from continental traffic and trends. It is a place where volcanic islands are still rising from the ocean, floor, borne on a bulging hotspot in the earth's crust which each island will ride back into the sea in an arc of time. Each island from oldest to youngest, children of the sea, is distinct though a recognizable member of a family. My archipelago explodes with diversity and abundance, free of threats from outside.

Because each island owes its origin to different volcanic events over a vast stretch of time, each island is a unique habitat. Famously, Darwin observed species here and found species of finches that were endemic, not only to the archipelago as a whole, but to specific islands within it, with differences reflecting each island's habitat. Thus Galapagos became the land that confirmed species mutability, challenging the notion that creation was over, accomplished, complete. My Galapagos is a place where the world is continually being made new, a place where we are only visitors to a finite world looking for an escape to eternity.

No comments: