The Great Chagos Bank is the largest coral atoll in the world.. The Great Bank and its surrounding islands and reefs are located smack in the middle of the Indian Ocean. This massive island group is comprised of fifty five islands, and are home of the largest coral atoll in the world. The reefs are so well preserved that they contain over one half of the entire Indian Ocean’s coral reefs.
Blue and Beautiful Water: The Least Polluted in the World
In Chagos, the pristine quality of the land and waters is the big attraction. In fact, the water here is so beautiful, so blue, and so untouched by mankind, that scientists who visit here will not wear sunscreen when going into the water, in an effort to keep it that way. Pollutant research has revealed the Chagos to be the least polluted water in the world.
Because the Chagos reefs are preserved, they have not been subjected to the kind of pollution, littering, and runoff damage of other, less fortunate reef systems. There are over 220 species of coral here and a thousand species of fish.
Formed from Volcanic Eruptions
The story behind the formation of these unique coral atolls is also interesting.
These corals and islands were formed millions of years ago, when India crashed into Asia, forming the Himalayans, and a volcano erupted then sank back into the sea, forming this huge atoll we now call the Chagos.
Here the Beauty of the Waters Compete with the Beauty of the Fish
Divers speak of their experience in Chagos as one of being distracted from the unique fish and big friendly wrasse until they stop to look at the corals and then are completely mesmerized by their pristine, untouched beauty.
Unique fish that populate these reefs include huge dogfish tuna, many species of sharks, and some 1,000 species of fish that teem around these islands and the turtles, dolphins, and sharks that use these reefs as their breeding havens.
Other endemic species in the Chagos include dolphins, finless dolphins, hawksbill turtle, Olive Ridley turtle Loggerhead turtle, Cuvier’s beaked whale, finless porpoise, and the Blainsville’s beaked whale.
The presence of the teeny but nearly extinct Olive Ridley turtle brings tourists, especially divers, all by itself, as there are only 1,000 of these thought to be in existence and they are rated the number one sea animal in fear of extinction.
Another endangered creature that calls these waters home is the Silky Shark.
Since the whole marine park was designated a “no-take” zone, the fish here have begun to repopulate, and visitors can hope to see more indigenous fish, such as the Chagos Clown Fish, and, possible spot an endangered specie or two as well.
The Largest Marine Park in the World
Now, at 397,667 square miles, the Chagos Marine Park is the largest conservationist area in the world. The British government has done everything they can to persuade legislators to implement every possible law, including a complete “no-take” rule, and because of everyone’s love for Chagos’ beauty and for the creatures that inhabit it the isles, Chagos is now the most protected reef in the world.
To get final legislation underway, finally, a compromise was reached so Chagos natives could continue to feed themselves and supplement their incomes. They can now fish in a much-needed three-mile fishing area around Diego Garcia island.