Aldabra Atoll

S9 25 0 E46 25 0
Date of Inscription: 1982
Criteria: (vii)(ix)(x)
Property : 35,000 ha
Ref: 185
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The atoll is comprised of four large coral islands which enclose a shallow lagoon; the group of islands is itself surrounded by a coral reef. Due to difficulties of access and the atoll’s isolation, Aldabra has been protected from human influence and thus retains some 152,000 giant tortoises, the world’s largest population of this reptile.

Located in the Indian Ocean, the Aldabra Atoll is an outstanding example of a raised coral atoll. Due to its remoteness and inaccessibility, the atoll has remained largely untouched by humans for the majority of its existence.  Aldabra is one of the largest atolls in the world, and contains one of the most important natural habitats for studying evolutionary and ecological processes. It is home to the largest giant tortoise population in the world. The richness and diversity of the ocean and landscapes result in an array of colours and formations that contribute to the atoll’s scenic and aesthetic appeal.

Criterion (vii): Aldabra Atoll consists of four main islands of coral limestone separated by narrow passes and enclosing a large shallow lagoon, providing a superlative spectacle of natural phenomena.  The lagoon contains many smaller islands and the entire atoll is surrounded by an outer fringing reef. Geomorphologic processes have produced a rugged topography, which supports a variety of habitats with a relatively rich biota for an oceanic island and a high degree of endemism. Marine habitats range from coral reefs to seagrass beds and mangrove mudflats with minimal human impact.

Criterion (ix): The property is an outstanding example of an oceanic island ecosystem in which evolutionary processes are active within a rich biota.  Most of the land surface comprises ancient coral reef (~125,000 years old) which has been repeatedly raised above sea level. The size and morphological diversity of the atoll has permitted the development of a variety of discrete insular communities with a high incidence of endemicity among the constituent species. The top of the terrestrial food chain is, unusually, occupied by an herbivore: the giant tortoise. The tortoises feed on grasses and shrubbery, including plants which have evolved in response to its grazing patterns. The atoll’s isolation has also allowed the evolution of endemic flora and fauna. Due to minimal human interference, these ecological processes can be clearly observed in their full complexity.

Criterion (x): Aldabra provides an outstanding natural laboratory for scientific research and discovery. The atoll constitutes a refuge for over 400 endemic species and subspecies (including vertebrates, invertebrates and plants). These include a population of over 100,000 Aldabra Giant Tortoise. The tortoises are the last survivors of a life form once found on other Indian Ocean islands and Aldabra is now their only remaining habitat. The tortoise population is the largest in the world and is entirely self-sustaining: all the elements of its intricate interrelationship with the natural environment are evident.  There are also globally important breeding populations of endangered green turtles, and critically endangered hawksbill turtles are also present.  The property is a significant natural habitat for birds, with two recorded endemic species (Aldabra Brush Warbler and Aldabra Drongo), and another eleven birds which have distinct subspecies, amongst which is the White-throated Rail, the last remaining flightless bird of the Western Indian Ocean. There are vast waterbird colonies including the second largest frigatebird colonies in the world and one of the world’s only two oceanic flamingo populations. The pristine fringing reef system and coral habitat are in excellent health and distinguished by their intactness and the sheer abundance and size of species contained within them.

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Assumption Island is a small island in the Outer Islands of Seychelles north of Madagascar, with a distance of 1,135 km (705 mi) south-west of the capital, Victoria, on Mahé Island which is not under any control of India. In 2018, Seychelles and India signed an agreement to build and operate a joint military facility on a portion of the island,which the National Assembly of Seychelles refuted the agreement and deemed after protestation by the citizens of Seychelles. As protests continued, the Seychellois president endorsed the Assumption Island deal with India. The plan caused public protests by activists who believed that the islands should stay out of the brewing India-China regional conflict. The agreement was declared “dead” by the Island’s opposition party. Assumption Island was discovered by Captain Nicolas Morphey on 14 August 1756, and was named after the religious feast of the next day. In 1908, the island was leased to Mr H. Savy of Mahé, who built a coconut plantation there [read more].

Aldabra Research Station. Picard Island (also known as West Island) is an island in the Seychelles. It is the third largest island of the Aldabra Atoll in the Aldabra Group of islands, 1150 kilometers southwest of the country’s capital, Victoria. The island covers an area of 9.29 km². This island forms the northwestern edge of the Aldabra atoll. It is separated from Grand Terre (South) Island in the south by the Passe Femme channel, which contains several small islands, and from Polymnieli Island in the west by Grand Passe. The atoll’s only habitation is a scientific base (La Gigi) on Picard Island, which is now permanently occupied by 12 scientists [read more].

Astove Atoll is a large atoll, part of the Aldabra Group, lying in the Outer Islands of Seychelles, with a distance of 1,041 km (647 mi) southwest of the capital, Victoria, on Mahé Island. The name Astove is said to be derived from the Portuguese As Doze Island, meaning the twelve islands, which may have been the original Portuguese name for Farquhar. Much of the region in which Astove lies was explored by Arab seamen and merchants between 1000 and 1500 AD, but there is no record of human settlement on the island before 1760. In that year, the Portuguese frigate La Dom Royal, laden with plunder and slaves, went aground at Astove. All aboard made it to the island, but the captain and crew soon abandoned Astove and struck out for Mozambique in a long boat. They never returned for the slaves, who organized into a community and subsisted on the bounty of the island and the sea [read more].