Studies In Persuasion: Marine Iguana

Global issues happen somewhere else. We may feel a pang of shame, but we also feel helpless. These problems are a vast blanket. Climate change, environmental destruction, ocean pollution, deforestation, dirty water and so many others, are targeted by an array of organizations that are often corporate in structure and dry in language. Online or off we are left feeling powerless, and so we move on.

This book takes one major issue, drills down to a simple engagement, by using great illustrations. and going after subject matter that is issue driven.

The focus is on pulling each endangered creature under your skin with a short story that features a handful of facts about the threats they face.

And it is a very short story — a first-person narrative in under five hundred words. Those are my constraints. Bad things happen to good creatures. The commentary is not militant or political. It doesn’t need to be. It is a socially conscious one-inch story of a dark future. I endow these creatures with self-awareness and the capacity for reflection. The narration seasons the illustrations. What does each character care about the most? What’s at stake?

Unlike other books on the market, this is filled with variety. Each page is a different challenge adding up to a book that challenges and entertains as a whole.

Personification aside, the details are factual. This is a mini learning experience, the cause of relationship. The animals have names and personalities.The short story told by each animal. A children’s book grown up.

To color an animal is to fall in love.


I’m waiting for Hurley to come out of the water. It’s freezing in there today and he stays in so long. I watch him, the big iguana, he’s tough, but he’s old, slowing down. We all have to wait to warm up after the water. We stand still for quite a long while. Then we go to the rocks. But today we have a problem.

Here comes Hurley now, one, two, three steps and stops. A slab of red seaweed is sticking out the side of his mouth. He stops chewing. One heavy bad-mood eye fixes itself on the visitors.

Two girls and three boys are here from the hotel. Their idea of fun is to use a lot of beach. It’s too much energy on this nesting ground. We have our eggs buried like a minefield. We cover the eggs with a thin layer of sand. So people here is never good. More stress. An egg is going to crack. Just wait.

Day before yesterday a hawk must have been high up there, circling. Suddenly we heard this rushing sound, and here comes the hawk, headlong down like a bullet. Hits the sand like a bomb all monster wide wings and massive feet, pounding the nest sucking up three babies from smashed shells and he’s gone, wuhwuh wuhwuh with the wings, a well-fed, fearless climb. He came in so fast, just terrifying.

The stress is wiping us out.

We swim to get the best food. People swim for no reason whatsoever. It’s not only the people that scare us — it’s the dogs, the cats and rats, scratching away the sand, crushing the baby shells, and eating our Galapagos children. At night, when the stars are bright and we look like shadows, the old iguanas tell their tales. Once this beach had ten thousand lizards. Now we are eight hundred. Every egg is a new baby, tiny and black and each one lost is forever.

The night gets blacker, the stars turn away, there is no moon. It begins to rain.

Originally published at Howard Stein.