The 2018 Isla Nublar incident was a series of events which took place on the Costa Rican island of Isla Nublar over the course of a few hours on June 23, 2018. The incident is usually considered to have occurred entirely on this date, but was preceded by a period of illicit activity on the island which took place for an unknown number of days prior to June 23. During the incident, de-extinct animal life was removed illegally from Isla Nublar by a mercenary group led by Ken Wheatley, who was hired by Eli Mills on behalf of geneticist Henry Wu. These activities were escalated into the incident of June 23 by the recruitment of Dinosaur Protection Group activist Claire Dearing and former InGen animal behaviorist Owen Grady, along with two other DPG activists, in order to secure a Velociraptor specimen named Blue for Wu’s research. The operation was concluded in the early afternoon of the same day due to a volcanic eruption, which had been predicted to occur at around that date.
Between 1983 and 1993, International Genetic Technologies, Inc. under the guidance of John P. A. Hammond and Benjamin Lockwood performed de-extinction research with the intent to open a theme park exhibiting prehistoric animals and plants. Geneticist Dr. Henry Wu succeeded in cloning the first dinosaur, a Triceratops horridus, in 1986 using novel gene splicing techniques to replace decayed segments of paleo-DNA. This project, Jurassic Park, was relocated from San Diego to Isla Nublar in 1988, InGen having already leased the nearby Muertes Archipelago from the Costa Rican government. De-extinct animals were introduced to the island between 1988 and 1993. Numerous setbacks occurred during construction; by 1993, Hammond and Lockwood parted ways due to bioethical disagreements, and unexpected animal behaviors also caused delays. The Park did not open to the public due to a fatal incident which occurred in June of 1993 resulting in the deaths of several employees and the release of the animals into the wild.
InGen did not abandon their plans for Jurassic Park due to the incident. Hammond was deposed as CEO in early 1997, and his successor Peter Ludlow attempted to complete the Park’s original location in San Diego in May of that year. This effort was actively sabotaged by Hammond, but an adult and juvenile Tyrannosaurus rex were nonetheless brought to the city and revealed de-extinction to the public. At the same time, Dr. Wu continued his genetic research, discovering ways to create new genera using the same techniques he had pioneered for genomic reconstruction in the 1980s. This concluded with the creation of a new genus and species of angiosperm plant, Karacosis wutansis. Both of these events caught the attention of Indian tech mogul Simon Masrani, the son of Hammond’s late friend Sanjay Masrani and CEO of Masrani Global Corporation. Hammond himself died following the events of 1997, and a year later, Masrani Global acquired InGen as a subsidiary.
In the years that followed, Masrani Global resurrected the Isla Nublar location, rechristening the park as Jurassic World. Once again, Henry Wu was brought on to act as lead geneticist, and animals were relocated from Isla Sorna to Isla Nublar between January 2004 and the park’s opening date on May 30, 2005. An intern from the summer of 2004, Claire Dearing, was hired to work on the island full-time and eventually rose through the ranks to become the park’s Operations Manager and Senior Assets Manager. She worked alongside InGen’s Head of Security, Vic Hoskins, who was hired in 2001. Together with Simon Masrani and thousands of non-administrative personnel, they ran Jurassic World without major incident for ten years. Supposedly, no de-extinct life was left on Isla Sorna, making Isla Nublar the only home of these creatures as far as the public knew.
Park revenues began to decline by the early 2010s, which had been anticipated as the public’s interest would periodically rise and fall. Attendance rose predictably with the announcement of each new attraction, so in 2008, Masrani Global’s Board of Directors agreed that Jurassic World should exhibit a new, unforeseen kind of creature to capture the public’s attention again. Masrani and Dearing authorized Henry Wu to use his hybridization techniques to genetically engineer a new dinosaur species, essentially giving him free rein in this project. By 2010 or 2011, Hammond’s estranged business partner Benjamin Lockwood had become invested in de-extinction again, his aide Eli Mills having negotiated with Dearing to partner the Lockwood Foundation with Jurassic World.
Henry Wu succeeded in creating his hybrid, a theropod called Indominus rex, in 2012. That same year, he also bred a new subspecies of Velociraptor for InGen Security’s I.B.R.I.S. project, which sought to study the animals’ intelligence to better understand how to integrate them into a park environment. Vic Hoskins became invested in both of these projects, intending to utilize the results of both to create improved military animals for the U.S. Armed Forces. The Indominus project was funded by Mills using money from Benjamin Lockwood’s fortune; Lockwood himself was most likely unaware of this. Mills intended to eventually inherit the Lockwood fortune himself. In 2012, four I.B.R.I.S. specimens survived and imprinted on former Navy animal behaviorist Owen Grady; the specimens were named (in order of age) Blue, Delta, Echo, and Charlie. Under more clandestine circumstances, two Indominus were hatched, though one would cannibalize the other by late 2014.
Wu had knowingly partnered with Hoskins and Mills to engineer the Indominus as a combat-ready animal, understanding that Jurassic World’s stagnating revenues could threaten his research. Masrani was completely unaware of the deal Wu had made with these two men. The Indominus was raised more or less in isolation and was not subject to a training regimen like the raptors; while its behavior was not particularly suited to following orders, other aspects of its physiology were less than ideal. Wu and Hoskins believed that engineering a smaller, more raptor-like animal would be a better way to accomplish the project’s aims.
The combat abilities of the Indominus and raptors alike were put to the test on December 18, 2015 during an incident in which the hybrid breached containment due to corporate mismanagement. Blue was the only raptor to survive the incident, and the Indominus was eventually killed after causing many fatalities across the island. The injuries and deaths to staff, animals, and tourists caused the park to close permanently, and Masrani Global Corporation suffered the worst financial crisis in its history due to the extreme negative press. Victims of the incident included Masrani and Hoskins, though Wu was evacuated to the Lockwood estate before the authorities could reach him. He was found guilty of bioethical misconduct by the U.S. government, and was stripped of his credentials. His laboratory was raided, the government seizing many of his specimens including all samples of the Indominus genome. Mills, however, still intended to go through with the military bioengineering project; with potential customers no longer limited to the U.S. military by Hoskins’s patriotic aims, he began planning to sell internationally. In order to provide Wu with a genome sample to build off of, Mills sent a team of mercenaries to Isla Nublar six months after the park’s closing; they retrieved a sample of rib bone from the animal’s remains.
Wu used this DNA sample to engineer a new genus of animal, the Indoraptor, by increasing the proportion of Velociraptor DNA in the genome along with other modifications. The resulting prototype was imperfect; it lacked the desirable behavioral traits such as empathy and loyalty, making it unsuitable for military use. Wu hypothesized that these traits were taught, rather than genetic, and that the animal therefore needed a maternal figure. The hybrid’s closest living relative was Velociraptor; unfortunately, by mid-2018, only one living member of this genus was known, the I.B.R.I.S. specimen Blue.
Meanwhile, from late 2017 onward, Isla Nublar’s long-dormant volcano Mount Sibo became active again following tectonic activity on the Cocos Plate. This resulted in environmental pollution which harmed the animal life on the island. Geologists also discovered that Mount Sibo had gained access to magma chambers that were previously disconnected, and that the extreme pressure building up underneath the island would likely result in an explosive eruption in the near future. Jurassic World’s former Operations Manager Claire Dearing formed a de-extinct animal rights advocacy organization, the Dinosaur Protection Group, in response to this. The DPG lobbied for the U.S. and Costa Rican governments to intervene and relocate the dinosaurs to a safer location, but no government action was taken. The DPG did have many public supporters, however, including Benjamin Lockwood, who planned to move the animals to the privately-owned Sanctuary Island using his cargo ship the S.S. Arcadia whether the U.S. government approved it or not.
Mills and Wu took advantage of Lockwood’s idealism for their own ends. While the animals of Isla Nublar had limited application to them, they could be sold to fund Wu’s continued research and establish themselves among their prospective buyers. They could also use this as an opportunity to capture Blue, thereby acquiring a ready-made maternal figure for the next generation of Indoraptors. The Arcadia reached Isla Nublar sometime in June of 2018, docking at the northeastern harbor; by this time all government monitoring of the island had ceased. The looming eruption was predicted to occur on or around June 22, but any time within a month of that point, and already the volcano’s effects and fierce competition between animals had caused many of the dinosaurs to die out. Mills hired mercenary Ken Wheatley to head the operation.
Wheatley and his team were able to capture dozens of dinosaurs from many species, including most of those which Mills’s prospective buyers had requested. However, Blue remained elusive; she had been sighted, but every time managed to evade capture and wounded several of Wheatley’s men. With time growing short, Mills grew desperate. An opportunity presented itself on June 22; the U.S. government officially announced its non-action decision regarding Isla Nublar in the morning. Lockwood’s secretary contacted Claire Dearing on Lockwood’s behalf, and she was chauffeured to the estate to be briefed on Lockwood’s illegal rescue mission. Mills played along as Dearing was told about Sanctuary Island, and he confirmed that Blue was alive. Dearing was skeptical that Blue could be captured, but Mills convinced her to recruit I.B.R.I.S.’s lead trainer Owen Grady, with whom she had previously had a romantic relationship. Grady initially declined to participate, but ultimately changed his mind and joined the mission to assist in capturing Blue.
The plan, as far as Dearing and Grady were informed, was to reactivate one of the still-functional radio bunkers and, using Dearing’s handprint signature, locate Blue via her RFID tracking implant. From here, Grady would lead a team to locate Blue, relying on his parental bond with her to keep her docile enough to capture. In the meantime, the rest of Mills’s team would work with Dearing and the other DPG leaders to round up as many animals as possible, load them onto the Arcadia, and transport them to Sanctuary Island before Isla Nublar became too dangerous. Of course, nearly all the animals had been captured already, with Blue as one of the last on their list; Mills’s actual plan would be to capture Blue and quickly get their cargo off the island for transport to Lockwood’s harbor near Orick, California. It is unclear if he had yet devised a part of the plan for dealing with Dearing and her allies after his true intentions became obvious, or if he expected Wheatley and his other mercenaries to improvise.
In the early morning of June 23, the mission departed from a private airstrip in Northern California on an airplane provided by Mills. Its members included Dearing and Grady, as well as DPG paleoveterinarian Zia Rodriguez and technician Franklin Webb. By midday of June 23, all personnel involved had arrived to Isla Nublar.
Saturday, June 23, 2018
- The DPG members and Grady arrive to Isla Nublar from the east, passing over a river delta and through a mountainous valley before passing the Jurassic World entrance gates. They fly north, circling past Mount Sibo, and then loop back to land at Ken Wheatley’s base camp a few miles south of the volcano.
- At the base camp, the new arrivals are surprised to find that the operation is already underway. Wheatley introduces himself; he and Grady take an instant dislike to each other, but nonetheless agree to work together. They need to move through the island’s central valley to reach the functional radio bunker.
- To reach the bunker, they must first head westward to use one of the remaining serviceable gates to leave the secure area around the base camp. This takes them from the northeast to Main Street, the site of the Indominus‘s defeat nearly three years prior. They encounter a Brachiosaurus, one of the survivors from the 1980s.
- The team moves north through what was once Gallimimus Valley. They reach Radio Bunker 02-17, located in the foothills east of Mount Sibo. Webb is able to gain them entry to the bunker, and Dearing uses her handprint to access the asset tracking system and the animals’ RFID implants. Blue is located just west of Mount Sibo. Grady, Wheatley, Rodriguez, and several mercenaries leave to track down the raptor.
- The capture team heads west, but must eventually proceed on foot due to the density of the jungle and Blue’s acute senses. Grady finds fresh tracks and goes ahead, instructing Wheatley to wait for his signal to move in.
- Blue approaches Grady, at first behaving aggressively, but she recognizes him and calms. Without waiting for Grady’s signal, Wheatley has his mercenaries shoot Blue with a tranquilizer, which panics her; Grady realizes that Wheatley’s intentions are not what Dearing was led to believe. Blue attacks one of Wheatley’s mercenaries when the man aims his gun at Grady; she kills the man by driving her left raptorial claw through his skull, but suffers a gunshot wound in her left shoulder. The bullet lodges in an artery. Grady attempts to physically attack Wheatley, but is shot with a tranquilizer dart in the right side of his chest; Rodriguez removes the dart before it can deliver a lethal dose, but Grady passes out. Wheatley initially plans to kill both Rodriguez and Grady, but as Blue is in critical condition due to shock and blood loss, agrees to bring Rodriguez with them on the condition that she keep Blue alive. Grady is abandoned in an unconscious state.
- Mount Sibo’s magma chamber is breached. The volcano ruptures from the ground up, sending rivers of lava across the northern part of the island.
- Wheatley contacts Mills to inform him that Blue has been secured, and that he expects his bonus for succeeding.
- Grady begins to recover from the tranquilizer, narrowly escaping a lava flow and arming himself with the dead mercenary’s sidearm. He heads eastward around the volcano to warn Dearing and Webb of Wheatley’s true intentions and rescue them.
- Wheatley’s team begins to evacuate, locking Dearing and Webb inside the radio bunker. Lava begins to leak into the maintenance tunnels. This drives a Baryonyx into the radio bunker via the tunnels, where the panicked animal acts aggressively toward Dearing and Webb. The two manage to escape the bunker via an emergency hatch in the roof, closing it to save themselves despite this condemning the animal inside.
- Grady reaches the bunker, joining Dearing and Webb as they flee from the eruption. By this time, lava bombs are being thrown from the volcano and pelting the island; the survivors are also threatened by large, frightened dinosaurs which are fleeing the eruption as well. They take shelter near an abandoned gyrosphere. Dearing and Webb enter the vehicle and try to get it to work, as it would aid their escape. Grady freezes before entering, as a Carnotaurus appears to take advantage of the chaos. It fails to kill its quarry, a Sinoceratops, and turns its ire on Grady; however, it is intercepted by an even larger predator, the island’s last surviving Tyrannosaurus rex.
- The northeastern face of Mount Sibo collapses under the force of the eruption, unleashing a shockwave and a cloud of toxic gas and dust. The tyrannosaur flees ahead of many other dinosaurs; Dearing and Webb drive the gyrosphere towards the northern coast, Grady struggling to keep up. The stampede reaches the northern cliffs, where many dinosaurs perish in the dust cloud while others take their chances in the ocean. The gyrosphere goes over the cliff, plunging into the water below; it begins to leak, made worse when volcanic debris punctures its aluminum oxynitride hull. It sinks, but Grady is able to reach it and force the door open using his hunting knife. The three survivors make for the surface.
- The tyrannosaur is driven to the ocean, where she encounters Wheatley’s mercenaries. With this incredibly valuable dinosaur now available to them, they waste no time in subduing and capturing her for transport.
- Dearing, Grady, and Webb reach a sandy shore just south of the East Dock. They witness the last dinosaurs being loaded onto the Arcadia, realizing that this is the only way off the island. As lava bombs pelt the dock, the mercenaries abandon a Mercedes-Benz Unimog; Dearing takes the wheel as Grady and Webb climb on board. She manages to drive them off the dock and onto the ship’s aft loading ramp as it departs, getting them safely on board. In the chaos, their dramatic entrance does not rouse suspicion.
- The dust cloud has now spread to all of northern Isla Nublar. The last dinosaurs in that region of the island die due to inhaling toxic substances; the Brachiosaurus encountered earlier attempts to call the humans to its aid, but the Arcadia does not turn back. Grady, Dearing, and Webb take shelter to avoid detection.
- Shortly after the Arcadia‘s departure, most of Isla Nublar is burning. Nearly all native and introduced life, including virtually all de-extinct life, will die out as a result.
Although the animals were rescued under false pretenses, this illegal operation saved several species from certain extinction. With the exception of the pterosaurs (including Pteranodon and Dimorphodon), and the Mosasaurus which had left the island in 2016, none of the de-extinct creatures living on Isla Nublar would have been capable of traversing 120 miles of open ocean to reach the nearest mainland on their own. Any species that remained on Isla Nublar following June 23 would have been almost certainly condemned to extinction; if they managed to survive the eruption itself, they would have faced a dramatic loss of food and habitat. The volcano has erupted continuously since 2018, making it unlikely that the island will reestablish its forested environments or become amenable to terrestrial life again soon. The operation can be seen as a victory for de-extinct animal rights, but can also be considered an overall animal rights failure as it entirely ignored naturally-extant modern species such as the Nublar tufted deer which has now almost certainly become extinct.
The surviving animals and persons involved with the incident were brought via the S.S. Arcadia to the harbor on Lockwood’s property, just south of Orick, CA. During transit, Rodriguez was able to treat Blue’s shock and blood loss using a xenotransfusion while also removing the bullet from her artery. Dearing and Grady managed to avoid detection on the ship by remaining with Rodriguez in a makeshift medical tent, while Webb was mistaken for crew during the night of June 24 and conscripted into service. The dinosaurs being unloaded at Lockwood’s harbor led into the main events of the Lockwood Manor incident, which itself ended with de-extinction going open source among international criminals as well as various de-extinct animals being released into Northern California.
Personal consequences of this incident are also not to be understated, particularly for Dearing and Grady. While their romantic relationship had been briefly rekindled during the events of 2015, this was short-lived. However, the events of 2018 (including those that transpired at Lockwood Manor following those on Isla Nublar) appear to have had a much longer-lasting impact on their relationship. Less positively, they are both now implicated in criminal activity. Even being present on Isla Nublar at all went directly against the orders of the federal government, as well as the private property rights of Masrani Global Corporation. Though Dearing and Grady (as well as Rodriguez and Webb) had been brought to the island under false pretenses, they had all been well aware of the U.S. government and Masrani Global’s decisions and the laws they were breaking to save the animals.