Journalist in Residence

Shipwrecked on Dry Land: a documentary for public radio

PI(s): Molly Samuel (Independent)
Start Date: 19-Apr-2011
End Date: 28-Apr-2011

Since the Age of Exploration, scientists and nature-lovers have known that island life bends toward the peculiar. On islands we find tiny versions of mainland mammals, colossal versions of mainland reptiles. From the safety of an island, evolution can go in marvelous directions.

But extinction can happen on those isolated places in the blink of an eye. As our technological world grows increasingly connected, the natural world becomes ever more fragmented. Parks are islands separated from each other by concrete and weeds; mountaintops are islands threatened by climate change. This fragmentation has a dire effect on plants and animals.

Shipwrecked on Dry Land tells the stories of species on the edge, forced either to adapt or to disappear. While habitat destruction and climate change are occurring everywhere, the unusual spectrum of breathtakingly beautiful, delicate, and unique islands in California offers the chance to tell stories unknown elsewhere and to peer into the future of our mainland.

The tiny island fox of Southern California’s Channel Islands, the giant sequoias and the tiny pikas of the Sierra Nevada, and the rare butterflies eking out a living in San Francisco’s city parks are pieces of a story that’s true the world over. Islands, nature’s laboratories, lead the way.