So how’d you pick the islands?

So I gave you the end of the story first with that last post. Now that we have the local permissions and federal permits in hand, and the experiment started, I want to tell you a bit about what all went into deciding just how to set up this experiment. It was a long process! This’ll take a couple of entries, so stay tuned.

About 12 months ago, after National Geographic’s Waitt Foundation gave me enough money to start pursuing this project wholeheartedly, I began counting up potential islets in and around the large islands of Naxos, Paros, and Antiparos. My first criteria at that stage were size and accessibility. While there are plenty of rocks along these coasts, I needed an island large enough to support a lizard population. Many too of these islets are so steep that accessing them is dangerous. I eliminated all of these from the ‘potentials’ category.

The next criteria had more to do with island condition vis-a-vis humans. I definitely wanted islands that were uninhabited, and I was looking for islands that didn’t have a lot of grazing on them. Grazing of course is somewhat difficult to measure on Google Earth, but any uninhabited islands over about 50 m in diameter with some greenery made it through this filter, leaving me with about 16 good options to consider.

There’s only so much you can see from Google Earth, but it was an invaluable tool for narrowing the search so that when I got here I could go right to those islands, survey them, and make a final decision. Those surveys are the subject for the next post, but since I’m making a habit of giving away the end before talking through all of the beginning, here are the 10 islands we’re using for the experiment:


These first five islets are located in the bay of Naoussa on the north side of Paros.



These last five islets are further south in the straits between Paros and Antiparos. See if you can find them in Google Maps, and get a closer look!

(Next time I make a mapping post I’ll try to get my brother in on it! You should go check out his maps!)

*​This work approved in permit number 111665/1669 from the Greek Ministry of the Environment.

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