Sailing tours to Selvagens Islands to observe and photograph wildlife, with particular interest on seawatching and birdwatching.
At about 165 nautical miles south the Madeira Island , Selvagens Islands are composed by Selvagem Grande and Selvagem Pequena, classified Natural Reserve and Net Natura 2000, and they are under the protection of the Madeira Natural Park – NPM. A permanent research station with two wardens is the only human inhabitants on the islands. Due to its isolated geographic localization, the Selvagens Islands are a wonderful region for marine life, flora and fauna, especially for seabirds, which is known by "Seabirds Sanctuary".
Selvagens Islands Tour
About marine life, Jacques Cousteau referred to these Islands as one the best spots for diving on the planet, especially due to non-human impact and crystal waters that allows 30 meters visibility. The scarce benthic life is rewarded by many pelagic fishes. Concerning birds, there are at least 10 species that breed regularly on the islands. All are seabirds, except one land bird: Berthelot's Pipit. The seabird numbers are quite high, with about (numbers of pairs breeding annually) 19000 Cory's Shearwater Calonectris diomedea borealis, 2000 Little Shearwater Puffinus assimilis baroli, 5000 Bulwer's Petrel Bulweria bulwerii, 60000 White Faced Storm Petrel Pelagodroma marina, 1500 Madeiran Storm Petrel Oceanodroma castro, and few Yellow Legged Gull Larus michahellis atlantis, Roseate Tern Sterna dougalii and Common Tern Sterna hirundo. Many other vagrant birds have been also recorded in these Islands. One of the greater experiences in life is to be at the Baía da Cagarras (means: Cory's Bay) in Selvagem Grande at sunset: it is amazing to be between thousands of cory's. Due to its noise, you can hardly sleep during the night!
About the fauna is also nice to highlight the 2 species of reptiles that can be seen. One is the Madeiran Wall Lizard Podarcis dugesii (a valid subspecies), and the other is the Selvagens Gecko Tarentola boettgeri bischoffi, with this form endemic to the Selvagens. Concerning the flora, Selvagens host 150 species, mostly small and stunted, of which ten are endemic. Some have an important role in the island ecosystem, like the Ice Plant Mesembryanthemum crystallinum and Egyptian Fig Marigold Mesembryanthemum nodiflorum that are fixers of the soil on the islands' sandy plateau, and important for the seabirds (especially the White-faced Storm-petrel) that dig their nest holes in this habitat.
During those trips at sea and around the islands there are many chances of seeing turtles, different species of dolphins or whales.
To see a complete trip report of a previous trip click on: Trip Reports
To find out more about the Selvagens Islands click on:
read the articles:
Holmstrom, N. 2005. A birding trip to the Salvage Islands.
Birding World 18 (8): 325-337.
Bister, H. 2005. Selvagensöarna – ducat bord med havets läckerheter.
Road Runner #4 Dec 2005: 40-47. (Swedish)
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