"Home of the "Monk Seals"" Deserta Grande by bambino36
Deserta Grande Travel Guide: 8 reviews and 16 photos
From the south side of Madeira Island we can can see three distant islands to the southeast. These are the mysterious Ilhas Desertas, which means 'the deserted islands' and this is due to the lack of permanent water and the consequent barrenness of the soil.
These three islands are Deserta Grande (the largest, with a length of 11 km), Ilhéu Chão and Bugio.
In 1990 the Desertas became a Nature Reserve, comprising the islands themselves and the surrounding sea to a depth of 100 metres. The reserve is divided into two protected zones of which the southern half of Deserta Grande and Bugio are strictly forbidden to visitors even by boat. On Deserta Grande there is a permanent research station with two guards from Parque Natural da Madeira, who are the only human inhabitants of the islands today.
Deserta Grande is one of the places where the monk seals still exist, although everytime I went there I never saw any.
The island is located 15 nautical miles southeast of Funchal (Madeira Island).
The lack of vegetation on the island is mainly due to the introduced colonies of rabbits, goats and mice. Still, the... more travel advice
This island is well known to be the home of a very small colony of monk seals, which was the main reason that it became... more travel advice
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