The Bazaruto Archipelago is a group of six islands in Mozambique, near the mainland city of Vilankulo. It comprises the islands of Bazaruto, Benguerra, Magaruque, Banque, Santa Carolina (also known as Paradise Island) and Shell. Nyati Island locates in further south.
Santa Carolina is a true rock island with deep channels and is just 3 km by 0.5 km in size. It has three beautiful beaches with coral reefs close to the shore. The island, also known as Paradise Island for obvious reasons is regarded as the ‘gem’ of the islands forming the Bazaruto Archipelago which is a proclaimed marine national park that boasts sensational beaches and magnificent scenery.
The archipelago became a National Park in 1971. There is a wide abundance of reef fish, surgeon, Moorish idols, parrots, angel and butterfly fish to name but a few. Sea turtles, game fish and devil rays are regularly seen. Various endangered marine megafaunas, such as whale shark, manta, leatherback turtle, cetaceans including humpback whale, and the dugong. Bazaruto's dugong population counts about 120 individuals, making it the largest of remnant populations in Mozambique.
Cetacean biodiversity had been much richer than today before being reduced by human activities including illegal mass hunts by the Soviet Union and Japan in 1960s to 1970s, resulting disappearances or rarities of many species such as the southern right whales. All live free in this conservation paradise, proclaimed a national park and recognised as a Gift to the Earth by the WWF. Bazaruto is one of two largest islands, the other being Benguerra.
It has been speculated that the Bazaruto Archipelago may be the island named Crocodile (Persian Sūsmār) mentioned in the 11th-century Egyptian Kitāb Gharāʾib al-funūn wa-mulaḥ al-ʿuyūn (The Book of Curiosities of the Sciences and Marvels for the Eyes). This island is the last place in a list of sites along the East African coast known to Egyptian merchants and is the fifth stop after Kilwa. Bazaruto supports a substantial population of crocodiles.
|Wikivoyage has a travel guide for Bazaruto National Sea Park.|
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