The Fernando de Noronha Archipelago and Rocas Atoll that are located off the coast of Brazil were formed as a result of volcanicity and Atlantic Ocean sedimentation activity on the Southern Atlantic submarine ridge. For being the breeding grounds of tuna fish, marine mammals, sharks and turtles as well as being home to the highest concentration of tropical seabirds, the islands were inscribed into the UNESCO World Heritage Sites. In particular, the Rocas atoll teems with fish during the low tide and Baia de Golfinhos is home to one of the most amazing populations of resident dolphins.
As a result of volcanic eruptions some 1.8 million to 1.9 million years ago, the Fernando de Noronha volcano pushed some rocks upwards about 4000 meters from the ocean seabed. Actually, this elaborate system is well represented by the high cliffs and sandy beaches that dot the islands’ landscape. To the northwest of the island you will find calm waters and hence the beautiful sandy beaches. Contrastingly, to the south east the waters are turbulent and hence the mostly rocky shores.
The Rocas Atoll is a low altitude reef formation that occupies an area of just 7.5 square kilometers. On high tide only two of the sandy islands are visible – they are barely 3 meters above the sea level. Of the two islands that are visible, the larger one is called Farol Island and measures 1000 meters long and 200 meters wide. It features a natural wall of sandbanks that are as high as 1.5 meters high. The atoll also has some narrow lagoons and pools that measure 1 50 5 meters deep.
The waters are very important to the survival of juvenile fish. The shallow waters feature some corals, algae and sponges that are important nutrients for the fish. All oceanic islands has similar characteristics and since there are less than 10 oceanic islands in the south Atlantic, you can imagine what would happen if this ecosystem is not protected by the state. In fact, if you factor the fact that the Roca Atoll and Fernando de Noronha Archipelago represent more than 50 percent of these oceanic islands, you would see why UNESCO listed them as World Heritage Sites.
Here is another reason why you should visit the islands. Fernando de Noronha is the only location on earth to have the Insular Atlantic Forest. An Insular Atlantic Forest is a subtype of Atlantic forests that hosts 400 species of vascular plants of which 3 are endangered. If not for anything else, visit these islands for their biodiversity.
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