Travel and Leisure — September 30, 2014 at 5:00 am

Most Biodiverse Islands in the World

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Every island contains the traditional flora and fauna of sun, sand and sea, but there are a few hidden gems dispersed throughout the ocean that contain spectacular biodiversity. Take a trip around the world as you discover species and islands that you’ve never heard from the most densely packed islands around.

Phoenix Islands
Located in the middle of the Pacific, the Phoenix Islands contain the world’s largest protected marine area. The 4,000-kilometer island has eight atolls, two reefs, 200 species of coral, 19 bird species, rare sea turtles and 514 different coral reefs.

Madagascar
Located off the coast of Africa, Madagascar is known for its lemur population, the only endemic species not found on the mainland. It is the fourth largest island in the world and surprisingly contains 40% of the world’s chameleon population. It also homes 160 threatened species and the rare Aldabara giant tortoise.

Galapagos Islands
Researchers and nature lovers flock to this island to research, protect, and admire nature’s beauty. Fertile on land and underneath the ocean’s surface, the Galapagos is home to the highest level of endemism in the world.  Approximately 97% of the reptiles, 80% of the birds and 30% of the plants of the island’s species populations are endemic on the islands.

Coiba Island
Located off the coast of Panama, Coiba Island packs in more biodiversity into 50 square miles than almost any other places on earth. Researchers from the Smithsonian headquarter research facilities to better understand marine life and the Coiba National Park. The island homes four species of turtles, the Coiba agouti, the Coiba spinetail and the Coiba mantled howler monkey, which are endemic to the island.

Mauritius
This Island is well known for its remote destination and five-star resorts. Low and behold approximately 50% of the island’s plants, reptiles, birds, amphibians and mammals are endemic to the island. Divers and snorkelers have the opportunity to swim, or catch a glimpse, of the migrating blue whales.

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