100 Places to Go Before They Disappear, a gorgeous new book of photos which comes out May 1, is dedicated to 100 places around the world that are already on their way or in danger of disappearing forever. In honor of Earth Day, which began as an environmental teach-in in response to an oil spill off of California's coast in 1970, we’re highlighting a few excerpts from some of the most fascinating destinations featured in the book, available from Abrams Publishing on May 1 for $24.95.
Franz Josef Glacier—South Island, New Zealand
The Franz Josef Glacier is widely considered to be the gem of the glaciers on the west coast of New Zealand. It descends from about 11,500 feet to just 787 feet above sea level in the middle of a temperate rainforest, making it the alpine glacier that terminates at the lowest altitude in the world.
Why go now? The glaciers in the New Zealand Alps have been shrinking since 2000. On average, those in the Southern Alps have shortened by 38% and lost 25% of their area. According to glaciologists from New Zealand’s Canterbury and Victoria universities, the Franz Josef Glacier could disappear within the next 100 years.
The Wadden Sea—Denmark
The Wadden Sea is a low-lying coast formed some 10,000 years ago at the end of the last ice age . . . As it reached the coast, silt deposits created new, low-lying land that has been changing shape with the ebbs and flow of the sea ever since. Tourists from Denmark and abroad flock to the Wadden Sea in droves to “walk on water” and see the varied landscape of cliffs marshes, sandy beaches, and tidal mudflats, where the difference between low and high tide can be up to 6 feet.
Why go now? If the sea level rises higher and more rapidly than expected . . . the Wadden Sea would be completely submerged, obliterating a prime bird sanctuary and some unique scenery.
The sea surrounding Komodo and its neighboring islands provides some of the world’s best diving spots, thanks to its spectacular unspoiled coral reefs and schools of fish of all shapes and sizes, bursting with color.
Why go now? In the sea, increased acidification and rising surface temperatures may eventually kill the coral. As well as affecting the coastal protection of the islands, the loss of the coral will have negative impact on marine life and could result in an immense loss of beauty and natural diversity.
How are you celebrating the Earth today? Which location would you like to visit before it potentially disappears forever?
Lyndsey Matthews is an online editorial assistant at Travel + Leisure.