Nazca boobies on Espanola Island, Galapagos.

Nazca boobies on Espanola Island, Galapagos. © Joseph Sina

If you’re a fan of NPR’s Radiolab, you may have already heard the episode they put out earlier this year about the Galapagos Islands. If you haven’t heard it, and you have any interest in the islands (or natural history, science or conservation in general), then it’s definitely worth an hour of your time.

Throughout the course of the program, the show’s hosts and producer Tim Howard, who visited the islands on his honeymoon, explore some intriguing questions that have implications that extend far beyond the Galapagos: Is it inevitable that humans will swallow up even the most pristine and sacred places? Should we try to save such places? Can we?

In the process they tell some fascinating stories about the islands, including the battle in the 90’s between local fishermen and the Galapagos National Park over sea cucumbers; Project Isabela, the largest invasive species eradication program ever undertaken; the havoc an invasive fly species is wreaking on finch populations, and the heroic but unsuccessful attempt to get Lonesome George, the last (and now deceased) Pinta Island tortoise, to breed and save his species from extinction.

You can listen to the episode here: