Saturday, June 18, 2005

Darwin Dogs Beagle For BBC 4

Few voyages have had more impact on science than Charles Darwin's visit to the Galapagos Islands in 1835. The archipelago of volcanic islands off Ecuador, with their unique diversity of plant and animal life, inspired Darwin's first ideas of evolution.

Charles Darwin's descendant Chris retraces part of the voyage for BBC Radio 4's “It's My Story”. He says the islands retain the sense of mystery and wonder that captivated his great, great grandfather.

"It's still got the innocence that really grabbed him 170 years ago," he told the BBC News website.

But he says the landscape would have looked very different then. The vast tracts of rainforest on the west coast of South America that Charles Darwin would have seen from HMS Beagle have been cleared, while wildlife on the islands has fallen prey to invasive species introduced by humans.

"There has definitely been damage in the sea," says Chris Darwin. "This is something I really noticed between the two trips I have taken. This time, I didn't see a single hammerhead shark and far fewer sea cucumbers."

"It's My Story: Beyond the Beagle" is broadcast on BBC Radio 4 at 2000 BST on Thursday, and then available on the network's website for a short period afterwards.

Read the full story HERE.