To celebrate World Oceans Day, we are pleased to host a guest post from Sabrina Weiss, whose book Amazing Islands is available now. Amazing Islands is a fact-filled, colourful celebration of island diversity, including information about wildlife, history, treasures and culture and featuring volcanoes, rainforests, Komodo dragons, prison colonies and more - with over 100 of the world's most magical islands to explore.
In her guest blog post below, Sabrina tells us more about the surprising havens of life that lie on islands in the middle of the ocean.
Guest Blog Post
by Sabrina Weiss, author of Amazing Islands (available here)
Some islands were long cut off from the rest of the world and it is this very isolation that made them so special. The Galápagos Islands, Easter Island, the Azores are just some of the remote islands featured in our new book Amazing Islands. They were all created by ancient underwater volcanoes that erupted and built up layers of lava that eventually emerged above sea level, forming the land we see today. They are also home to many animals and plant species, both above and below the ocean surface, that exist nowhere else on Earth. Take the Galápagos Islands. There are giant tortoises, marine iguanas, Darwin’s finches, flightless cormorants, and the only penguins to live in the northern hemisphere. About 80% of the land birds, 97% of the reptiles and land mammals, and more than 20% of the marine species found on this group of islands are endemic.
Volcanic islands also serve as aids to navigate the vast ocean expanse, almost like a direction sign. Manta rays, sea turtles and sharks that migrate long distances in search of food and a mate will cruise the strong currents that pass through these islands. Other marine creatures like seals and seabirds come to shore to safely rear their young. Wildlife truly thrives in splendid isolation.
The future, however, is uncertain for these remote islands. Tourists are drawn by their beautiful landscapes, they want to see the unique wildlife with their own eyes. Understandably. Around 25,000 people reside on 5 of the 19 main islands of the Galápagos, but a staggering 270,000 tourists visit every year. As tourists flock to this natural paradise they may unintentionally pollute the environment and bring in invasive species that do not belong. Rats, fire ants and Philorins downsi flies were all accidentally introduced, possibly by arriving ships, and have had devastating effects on the native flora and fauna of the Galápagos Islands. Planes, ships and people can also inadvertently carry viruses and bacteria that cause disease.
Tourism doesn’t have to be a problem, though. Island inhabitants benefit from jobs and visitor fees feed into the conservation of nature. As long as tourists travel responsibly, watch wildlife from afar and keep the environment clean, these wonderful islands will stay pristine for many more generations to enjoy.
AMAZING ISLANDS is written by Sabrina Weiss (@sabrinamweiss) and illustrated by Kerry Hyndman (@kerryhyndman) out now in hardback (£14.99, What on Earth Books). Keep an eye out on our blog for our Review Panel's review of the book soon.
Many thanks to Sabrina for providing this guest post. For more about Amazing Islands, follow the rest of the stops on the blog tour.
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