Cocos Island is the largest of the uninhabited islands in the Pacific Ocean and is located about 600 km from the western coast of Costa Rica, the territory of which it is. The Galapagos Islands are the closest archipelago to the island, a few hundred miles to the southwest. The entire Cocos Island is covered with jungle, and the seabed near its shores is volcanic rock on which grows wildly with growing algae. The fauna of Cocos Island is protected, and since 1997 Cocos Island has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In addition, this island is famous for the fact that, according to legend, the largest treasure is hidden on it.
Cocos Island resembles a rectangle in shape with sides of 3 km in the meridian and 8 km in latitudinal directions, and its total area is about 23.9 km². And since the island is located in the so-called Equatorial Convergent Zone, the weather here is mostly cloudy, with frequent showers throughout the year, and the climate is humid and tropical. The average annual air temperature is 23.6 ° C with an average annual rainfall of over 7000 mm. Numerous warm currents have a huge impact on the climate of the island. Special studies have shown that the formation of the island took place about 1.9-2.4 million years ago; in the late Pliocene. The surface of the island is mountainous with the highest point - Mount Cerro Iglesias, 771 m above sea level.And since the mountains are located mainly on the coast, the central part of the island is a plain about 200-260 m above sea level.
The flora of the island is extremely rich and unique, which served as the basis for declaring the island a protected area. So, out of 235 species of flowering plants growing on the island, 70 are endemic to the island. The species composition of horsetails and ferns is very interesting, numbering 74 species, 128 species of lichens and mosses, 90 species of higher fungi and 41 species of fungal mold. At the same time, the composition of the local flora has not been fully studied.
The vegetation cover of the island is conventionally divided into three types: coastal vegetation, inland and mountainous. The first type Tropical rainforests that rise along the slopes of the coastal mountains up to about 50 m are the coastal type of vegetation. The basis of the flora here is brown erythrina (Erythrina fusca), coconut palm (Cocos nucifera) and smooth annona (Annona glabra), and the herbaceous cover is based on ferns and plants from the Malvaceae and Legumes families.
The second, internal type of vegetation is located on the slopes of the coastal mountains up to an altitude of 500 m above sea level and constitutes the vegetation cover of the plain area of the island. Plants include iron tree, avocado (Ocotea insularis), diamond cecropia (Cecropia pittieri). There are also numerous epiphytes, twining trees and hanging down from the branches, making the forest very difficult to pass. These include representatives of orchids, ferns, bromeliads (and in particular, pineapple), Franklin's palm (Rooseveltia frankliniana), as well as several types of mosses.The herbaceous cover is formed by various types of ferns (Cyathea armata, Danaea media and others). The third mountainous type of vegetation is the rainforest, the main species of which are trees from the Myrtle family.
The fauna of the island is rich and varied. The island is home to over 400 species of insects, of which approximately 16% or 65 species are endemic. Butterflies and ants are especially numerous and varied. Of the other arthropods, the most numerous are spiders (and the spider Wendilgarda galapagensis, lives exclusively on Cocos Island), as well as woodlice and millipedes, some of which are poisonous. Poisonous snakes are found on Cocos Island, and two species of lizards (Sphaerodactylus pacificus and Norops townsendii) are endemic. There are no amphibians on the island.
Birds are also numerous here: about 90 species of them nest here. Nesting colonies of many seabirds such as the brown (Sula leucogaster) and red-footed (Sula sula) boobies, the great frigate (Fregata minor), the white tern (Gygis alba) and the common silly tern (Anous stolidus) are located in the area of the island and the nearby surface cliffs. 7 species of birds live in the interior of the island, 3 of them are distributed only here: the coconut fly beetle (Nesotriccus ridgwayi), the coconut cuckoo (Coccyzus ferrugineus) and the coconut finch (Pinaroloxias inornata).
Mammals on the island are represented by 4 species introduced by humans: virgin deer, feral domestic pigs, cats and rats. Costa Rica is trying to control their strength as they disrupt the resilience of the local ecosystem. It has been established that up to 90% of broods die due to the fault of rats.
Warm tropical waters, coral colonies, seamounts, volcanic caves provide shelter and food for 600 species of shellfish and more than 300 species of fish,among which are yellowfin tuna (Thunnus albacares), manta rays (Manta birostris), sailfish (Istiophorus platypterus), bronze hammerhead sharks (Sphyrna lewini) and, finally, whale sharks (Rhincodon typus), which are considered the largest in their family ... Coastal waters are also home to humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae), grinds (Globicephala), bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) and sea lions (Zalophus californianus), whitetip and graytip reef sharks (Triaenodon obesus). The reefs are inhabited by octopuses, moray eels, biss (Eretmochelys imbricata), green (Chelonia mydas) and olive (Lepidochelys olivacea) sea turtles, and parrotfish.