Brazilian Atlantic Islands: Fernando de Noronha and Atol das Rocas Reserves
Peaks of the Southern Atlantic submarine ridge form the Fernando de Noronha Archipelago and Rocas Atoll off the coast of Brazil. They represent a large proportion of the island surface of the South Atlantic and their rich waters are extremely important for the breeding and feeding of tuna, shark, turtle and marine mammals. The islands are home to the largest concentration of tropical seabirds in the Western Atlantic. Baia de Golfinhos has an exceptional population of resident dolphin and at low tide the Rocas Atoll provides a spectacular seascape of lagoons and tidal pools teeming with fish.
Of indescribable beauty, the Fernando de Noronha Marine National Park, located at a distance of about 340 km off the Brazilian coast, is formed by volcanic peaks of a submerged mountain chain. Nearly 70% of the main island of Fernando de Noronha, 21 smaller islands and islets of the archipelago, as well as most adjacent waters to a depth of 50 metres are part of the property. The Atol das Rocas Biological Reserve, the only atoll in the South Atlantic, is located about 150 km west of Fernando de Noronha. It is an elliptical reef including two small islands surrounded by a marine reserve. With these two protected areas, the property covers an area of 42,270 ha and a buffer zone of 140,713 ha.
At the heart of a vast ocean surface, the Brazilian Atlantic Islands form an oasis of fertile waters, which are extremely important breeding and living places for tuna, shark, turtle and marine mammals, and which play a crucial role in the natural fish restocking of the region. Two species of sea turtle breed there: the hawksbill and green turtle, for which the Rocas Atoll is considered the second most important breeding site of Brazil. These islands are home to the largest concentration of tropical seabirds in the Western Atlantic, and include the only examples of Insular Atlantic Forest and the only oceanic mangrove in the South Atlantic. Dolphin Bay (Baía dos Golfinhos) hosts an exceptional population of resident dolphin, and at low tide, Rocas Atoll provides a spectacular seascape of lagoons and tidal pools teeming with fish and a great variety of shellfish, sponges, molluscs, corals, etc.
Criterion (vii): Dolphin Bay is the only known place in the world with such a large population of resident dolphins. In addition, two of its beaches, Praia do Sancho and Praia do Leão, were elected as the most beautiful in Brazil. The Rocas Atoll has a spectacular seascape, especially at low tide when the exposed reef surrounding shallow lagoons and tidal pools forms a natural aquarium. Both sites also have exceptional underwater landscapes that have been recognised worldwide in specialized diving literature.
Criterion (ix): The Fernando de Noronha and Atol das Rocas represents over half the insular coastal waters of the Southern Atlantic Ocean. These highly productive waters provide feeding ground for species such as tuna, billfish, cetaceans, sharks and marine turtles as they migrate to the African coast. An oasis of marine life in relatively barren, open ocean, the islands play a key role in the process of reproduction, dispersal and colonization by marine organisms in the entire Tropical South Atlantic.
Criterion (x): The Fernando de Noronha and Rocas Atoll are key sites for the protection of biodiversity and endangered species in the Southern Atlantic. Providing a large proportion of the insular habitat of the South Atlantic, the site is essential for the maintenance of marine biodiversity. It is important for the conservation of threatened species of marine turtles, particularly the hawksbill turtle. The site accommodates the largest concentration of tropical seabirds to be found in the Western Atlantic Ocean and is a Global Centre of Bird Endemism. The site also contains the only remaining sample of the Insular Atlantic Forest and the only oceanic mangrove in the South Atlantic region.
Fernando de Noronha is an archipelago in Brazil and a UNESCO Natural World Heritage Site. Its pristine beaches, landscapes and wildlife attract tourists worldwide. The archipelago has never been linked to the mainland. Geologically, it is the tip of a submarine volcanic formation which rises out of the deep seabed and consists of one main island and several rocks and islets. The rocks form many natural aquaria and the underwater life is diverse. Because the reefs of the South Atlantic are isolated from the Caribbean by the outflow of the Orinoco and Amazon rivers, the reef communities are very different with many endemic species. Bathed by currents coming from Africa the waters around the islands are very clear with very good visibility even at 50 meters and have great year-round warm temperatures. Of course, you can also see the large “global” species such as manta rays, sharks, moray eels, goliath groupers, sea turtles and dolphins [read more].