The great pyramids at Giza, EgyptElephants crossing the Zambezi river in Mana Pools National Park world heritage site, ZimbabweThe great mosque in the Old Towns of Djenne world heritage site, MaliBlack and white ruffed lemur, Rainforests of the Atsinanana world heritage site, Madagascar

Aldabra Atoll - Seychelles

Map of Aldabra Atoll UNESCO World Heritage Site showing its location in the Indian Ocean Seychelles Island archipelagoArea: 350 km2

Inscribed: 1982

Criteria: (vii) aesthetic; (ix)  evolutionary processes; (x)  biodiversity

Values:Aldabra is one of the largest coral atolls in the world, a ring of four islands enclosing a shallow tropical lagoon, surrounded by a fringing reef. It is located in a very remote part of the eastern Indian Ocean, about 1,000 km west-south-west of the main Seychelles group, 400 km north-west of the northern tip of Madagascar and 600 km from the East African coast.  The four islands have been built up from the sea bed and represent the top of a coral limestone ‘cap' varying in thickness from 0.6 to 1.6 km.  They show a complex history of emergence and submergence, and today lie about 8 metres above sea level. The ring of islands, with its enclosed lagoon covers an area about 34 km long and 14 km wide, with each island being about 2 km wide.

The remote location of Aldabra and the lack of fresh water have meant that it has largely avoided the attentions of passing ships and remains relatively pristine, a place where ecological processes have continued unaffected by humans.  It supports more than 400 endemic species and subspecies of flora and fauna, including most notably a population of around 100,000 Aldabra Giant Tortoise, the world's largest tortoise.  The main ecological features of the atoll include its prolific unspoilt coral reefs, lagoon, sea-grass beds and mangrove mudflats; and the scrubby dry vegetation characteristic of the islands. It is recognised by Birdlife International as an Important Bird Area, and is home to the last of the western Indian Ocean flightless birds, the Aldabra rail (all the others have gone the way of the Dodo, driven to extinction).

Slideshow of Aldabra Atoll:   The photos in this slideshow were kindly provided by Jerker Tamelander and show the appearance of the atoll from the air, with the narrow channels between the four islands.  There are photos of some of the key terrestrial species, as well as a collection of underwater photos showing sharks in the shallows, and some of the spectacular corals.  Of the terrestrial species, there are photos of giant tortoises and two of the five species of endemic birds - the Aldabra rail and red-headed fody.


 Slideshow of Aldabra Atoll 


Google Earth View
:  To view satellite imagery of Aldabra Atoll on Google Earth, click here.  This opens a new window, so when you are finished, just close the Google Earth page and you will be straight back here to continue browsing.  The images of the atoll are nice and sharp (although slightly obscured by cloud) allowing you to get a very good overall impression of its form, and the extent of the coral reefs in the deep blue ocean offshore.

Links to other places in the Strange Worlds category:  Vallee de Mai Tsingy de Bemaraha  I  Rainforests of the Atsinanana  I  Cape Floral Region

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Other Links: Google Earth | UNEP-WCMC Site Description | Official UNESCO Site Details | Birdlife IBA

Aldabra giant tortoise is endemic to the Seychelles Islands and most abundant on the atoll itselfAldabra Atoll UNESCO world heritage site (Seychelles Islands) is a haven for marine wildlife such as this shark basking in the shallowsAldabra is a coral atoll supporting an enormous diversity of marine life (UNESCO world heritage site, Seychelles Islands, western Indian Ocean)In satellite view a ring of four islands surround a shallow lagoon making up Aldabra Atoll UNESCO world heritage site (Seychelles Islands, western Indian Ocean)




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