Friday, 5 November 2010

Ascension Island wildlife


Ascension Island is a British Overseas Territory in the South Atlantic... about half way to the Falklands, just below the equator. There is no indigenous population, and the people who live there come from the UK, St. Helena (nearest other island, 900 miles away), the US and all over the world. Basically it's only function is as an airbase and listening post. About a third of the island is trashed with military and spy gear, but the rest remains starkly beautiful - ranging from from lava desert and sweeping cliffs round the coast, thorny scrub or sparse grasses at the bottom, right up to rainforest on top of the mountain. Earlier this year I spent a few weeks there working with the Department of Conservation, and I loved it. I have decided to stick a few of the images up...

The wildlife is centred around seabirds, marine species and various plants and land crabs.. and once you get into it is truly fascinating.


Botswainbird island, white with seabirds

Masked boobies are now nesting on Ascension Island proper for the first time in hundreds of years after eradication of feral cats..


Brown booby....

Green turtle - Ascension Island is the biggest green turtle nesting site in the Atlantic. They are huge, and can weight over 200 kilos..

Turtle tracks on a beautiful beach

Related to the piranha, these blackfish swarm in huge numbers around Ascension (the only place they do so) and play a major role in the local ecology

Beautiful white fairy tern... like all the wildlife on Ascension they are surprisingly fearless of humans and will come very close to check you out...

Agave plants up on Sisters Peak mountain. One of the dry peaks. The rain falls almost daily on green mountain, but is very localised. Just a mile or two away, Sister's Peak is bone dry.


Endemic marrattea ferns on Green Mountain
Land crabs in yellow, orange, pink and purple can be found all over the island, but particlarly in the human forests on Green Mountain and round the back of the island
Made up of largely introduced plants, a beautiful rainforest now tops green mountain and clings to its sides.... Anyway, that will do for now... I will put up more pictures another time!

2 comments:

  1. The Island has become much Greener then when I lived there as a child in 1971-73. Used to live in The Apollo Houses in George town.
    I learned to Snorkle on English Bay and my Dad set up the Dive Club there.

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  2. Hi John! Yes the island is greening all the time, and it seems that rainfall patterns have changed too, with a lot more rain falling on the mountain that a few decades ago.. It is still beautiful, and despite the fact that the plants on GM are introduced, the forest that is there is truly wild now, and quite wonderful. Like a botanic garden 100 years after an apocalypse. Long may it be left alone.

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