Welcome back for part two of our Arkive Atlantic Islands feature series where we celebrate the incredible biodiversity of the South Atlantic islands! Let Arkive melt away the remaining winter snow with these magical tropical paradises of the South Atlantic. These islands have a high degree of endemism – species that are only found on those islands – as well as biologically rich waters.
Below are some of the marvelous species that inhabit these islands. Enjoy!
Ascension Island was formed from the debris of a now extinct volcano. It is considered to be one of the most isolated islands in the world.The unassuming Ascension Spurge grows on the driest parts of the island on lava fields up to 310 metres above sea level. Its stems contain a thick, poisonous, milky juice that can cause blindness if it comes in contact with the eyes.
The Falkland Islands are visited by approximately 227 migratory bird species who remain on the islands throughout the breeding season. The Falkland steamerduck receives its namesake from its habit of using its wings and feet to propel itself across the surface of the water like an old paddle steamer. Unlike most ducks, this species is flightless since its wings are shorter than its body.
Fernando de Noronha
The insular Atlantic forest on Fernando de Noronha is the only one of its kind. Green turtles are born with a special hooked ‘egg tooth’ used to break out of the egg, which they later lose. Also, they are named not for the colour of their carapace, but rather for the green colour of their fat.
St Helena is one of the most remote inhabited islands in the world. The critically endangered St Helena boxwood is a small shrub that smells strongly of tobacco. Erosion is the primary force pushing this endemic species toward extinction.
São Tomé and Príncipe
São Tomé and Príncipe is Africa’s smallest country and was formed from the accumulation of volcanic debris. The elusive São Tomé shrew is a rarely seen species that appears to be a solitary mammal since they are usually seen alone. This species is tolerant of human activity and has also been found close to human settlements.
Tristan da Cunha
The offshore islands of Gough and Inaccessible are considered to be two of the world’s most important breeding grounds for sea birds. The adorable Inaccessible rail holds the title of the smallest flightless bird in the world. It is most abundant in tussock grassland, further away from cliffs and in the open fern-bush on the plateau.
Now that you know a bit more about the islands, species, and ecosystems of the South Atlantic, ever wonder which island would best match your personality and interest? We wondered that too so we came up with a nifty little quiz that compares your personal interests and personality to unique characteristics of the islands in the Atlantic Ocean.
Would you swim with the southern rockhopper penguins of the Falkland Islands? Or maybe you prefer to scour the rocky shores of São Tomé and Príncipe?
William Lazaro, Arkive Social Media Intern, Wildscreen USA