The main characters in Rare And Endangered are two teenagers, Jim and Julia, and the story takes place in the exotic Caribbean paradise of the Caicos and Turks Islands. Julia’s father, Andreas, works for the Bottle Creek Marine Research Station and takes charters on his ketch, San Cristobal, on the side. Jim is from Vancouver, Canada, and spent the previous summer working with Julia, George (who runs the Station), and Gabriel, in the Queen Charlotte Islands of the B.C. coast. (The story of that adventure is the first in this series of eco-adventures.) Rare and Endangered is the second in the series and Jim and Julia join a student from California, Carlin, on an expedition to tag endangered green sea turtles so they can be tracked by navigation satellites that are in turn monitored by a lab in Houston, Texas. A second researcher, Miles, is studying flamingos in another lagoon not far from the nesting beach used by the giant sea turtles.
Jim is excited to be trusted by George to pilot their 18-footer for the expedition. Everything starts well until they stop to deliver supplies to Miles on route to their tagging site. He’s been having trouble with people disturbing the rare flamingos and a pair of them haven’t been seen for a few days. Pushing that knowledge to the back of their minds, the group continue on to the nesting area on Ambergris Cays. They set up camp and wait for dark when the turtles leave the water to lay their eggs in the sand well above the tide line. The first night, everything goes smoothly. They tag 5 turtles and attach transmitters to the underside of their shells with epoxy and pop rivets. The third night, they stumble across poachers butchering turtles and literally have to run for their lives. With Miles missing when they return to his site and a hurricane on the way, the youngsters split up and that’s when things really start to get exciting.
This book has a message about the poaching of endangered species but it’s an important message and doesn’t in any way diminish the enjoyment of following Jim and Julia on their dangerous adventure. There is a lot of suspense in the story as well as an exposure to a new awareness of different parts of the world and cultural vocabulary.
John Dowd is an Australian photo-journalist/adventurer who has travelled the world and is able to write realistically about the Caribbean. There is a lot of sailing jargon which many readers may not be familiar with and I wish Dowd had included a glossary at the back of the book. He does include a map of the area with an inset of its place in the Caribbean which is helpful. Some of the place names may be difficult for young readers to pronounce; looking them up online will help if you go to a link where the word will be pronounced for you. I’ll be heading out to find the first book in the series, Hogsty Reef. * * * *