The writer Niall Griffiths has described St Helena’s isolation as “extreme, and thrilling” in a brief article for National Geographic magazine.
He comments on the island’s natural wonders in an article that will be seen by the magazine’s global readership:
“With one step I traversed 80% of the planet’s entire species of tooth-tongued fern. That’s an odd and heavy sensation, to know that, with one stumble or misplaced step, I could’ve committed botanic genocide.”
He also describes watching a baby dolphin struggling to leap up from the sea around the RMS St Helena.
(A broken link to Colin Lawrence’s picture has now been sorted)
The images in National Geographic’s annual photography competition feature sunsets, waterfalls, beaches, characterful faces and wondrous creatures from around the globe – and Colin Lawrence’s toes.
They’re poking out from the flapping remnant of his left shoe, and to photographer Tiffany Devereux, they epitomise the spirit of St Helena.
Of all the marvels of St Helena’s people and landscape, it was Colin’s toes that stuck out – so to speak – when she came to choose an image to submit for the 24th annual National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest (entry: $15 a time).
The prizes include a place on a photographic expedition to the Galápagos islands, but the chances of winning are small. Last year, the competition attracted 13,000 entries.
A caption tells how Colin ripped the top of his shoe when his foot slipped while he was driving. The sole was still good, so he carried on wearing it. “To me,” writes Tiffany, “Lawrence’s statement is a metaphor for the resilient people of St Helena.”
The picture can be seen here. And click here to see more of her highly distinctive St Helena images – along with a blog about her 2009 trip to the island.
Photographer Andrew Evans arrived on the world’s most remote inhabited island just days after the bulk carrier MS Oliva was shipwrecked, creating an environmental disaster.
The ship releasing an oil slick that was to kill hundreds of endangered rockhopper penguins – and for a few days, it went unreported in the world’s media.
Evans had travelled to Tristan da Cunha in his role as National Geographic’s ‘digital nomad’, intending to capture the islanders’ way of life. Instead, he found himself witnesses the islanders’ response to a calamity.
Now National Geographic has released a video of him talking about how he broke the story of the MS Oliva.
“It was devasting,” he says. “Nobody in the world knew about this. This was an island that was completely disconnected. It’s off the grid.
“The first thing I did was take as many pictures as I could. I created a YouTube video and published it immediately from the ship. I put it out on Twitter [an internet messaging website] and it got picked up by the blogosphere.
“National Geographic got it out there in the real press, and it went to the New York Times.”
The lesson, says Evans, is that anyone with a camera and a web connection has the power to share news with the world.
In fact, Tristan is not as disconnected as he suggests. The story was also being relayed beyond the island on Tristan’s own website, which is published from the UK.
And unlike Evans, a Belgian witness had video footage of the crew actually being rescued by personnel from a passing cruise ship. However, Kanaal van KristineHannon’s shots did not appear on YouTube for another 11 days.
And efforts were being made to get the story in the UK media – but the oil spill happened in the same week as the Japanese earthquake and tsunami. The BBC was told about the story several times, but took days to get round to covering it.
The Today programme ran a live interview on the crisis on 22 March 2011 – the day Evans arrived on Tristan (and released a video in which he made no mention of the disaster).
An accident in the harbour at Tristan da Cunha forced a cruise ship zodiac driver to be left behind on the island for a month.
She’s now fully recovered and has been taken off by the container ship Cap Jackson.
The accident happened while she was transporting passengers ashore from the National Geographic cruise ship NG Explorer.
Tina Glass writes about the episode on the Tristan website. She says: “Stephanie had first been looked after in hospital by the medical team, and later moved to stay with an island family. She was soon well enough to enjoy island life, having been on the island for a month, although she just missed the annual Ratting day, by a few days.
“The community wishes her a full recovery and a safe journey home, to her family and friends.”
See Tina’s full report and pictures here, with more on the Tristan Cruise News page (note: Stephanie’s surname is not given).