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May 16 2013

Invasive species: The 18-km2 rat trap


The helicopter appears as a speck on the horizon, moving slowly on a dead-straight path over the black volcanic island. Beneath it hangs a huge metal cone: an industrial-scale hopper that is sending a steady stream of blue pellets raining down on the scrubby landscape of Pinzón, one of the Galapagos Islands.

Erin Hagen watches through her binoculars. She is standing on the deck of the Sierra Negra, one of three vessels moored just off the island on this morning in November 2012. When the helicopter reaches the rocky shoreline, it changes course, heads across the ocean and hovers just above the boat.

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