The Galapagos of the Indian Ocean - The Chagos Archipelago
"The U.K. has secured a conservation legacy which is unrivalled in scale and significance, demonstrating to the world that it is a leader in conserving the world's marine resources for the benefit of future generations."
-Alistair Gammell, director of the Global Ocean Legacy Chagos campaign
The 55 tropical islands and vast coral reefs of the Chagos Archipelago in the Indian Ocean (PDF) comprise one of the most remote, unspoiled marine areas left on Earth. Half of this ocean's healthy coral reefs are found in the waters of the Chagos. Teeming with life, these islands and their surrounding waters host 220 known species of coral, more than 700 species of fish and over 175,000 pairs of breeding seabirds.
Unlike most of the Indian Ocean, the Chagos is largely unspoiled from fishing and other extractive activities. As a result, it is home to an exceptional variety of marine life. Migratory and reef fish, marine mammals, birds, turtles, and corals find safe refuge here.
To conserve this rare and ecologically valuable place, the United Kingdom established the waters surrounding the Chagos Archipelago, including near-shore and deep water out to 200 nautical miles, as the largest no-take marine reserve in the world in April 2010. At 544,000 square kilometers (210,000 square miles), the Chagos marine reserve covers an area larger than France and more than 60 times the size of Yellowstone National Park in the United States. As a no-take marine reserve, fishing in the Chagos' waters is prohibited.
"The U.K. has secured a conservation legacy which is unrivalled in scale and significance, demonstrating to the world that it is a leader in conserving the world's marine resources for the benefit of future generations," says Alistair Gammell, director of the Global Ocean Legacy Chagos campaign.
Protecting the Chagos will help ensure this marine ecosystem will continue to serve as a benchmark for science and conservation. Additionally, a healthy Chagos ecosystem means that it waters can continue to serve as an important nursery for fish and corals which enrich and replenish the whole ocean.