Map of the Month: Rodriques, Cargados Carajos, and Agalega

Map boundaries: 10 to 20 degrees South; 56 to 64 degrees East

Country: Mauritius


The southern part of the Mascarene Plateau, the largest submerged bank in the world, is covered with seagrass and interspersed with coral reefs. The plateau extends from north to south roughly along the 60th meridian, and is mostly underwater. Mauritius, home of the dodo, and associated islets are on the southern part of this plateau. North from Mauritius are the shallow banks of the Mascarene Plateau, extending for 1000 miles to the north. From south to north, the shallower parts of the plateau are known as Soudan Banks, Cargados Carajos Shoals, Nazareth Banks, and Saya de Malha. Saya de Malha was an island until the last ice age. Its shallowest point is 8 meters deep.

The islands near Mauritius include Round Island, Flat Island, Gabriel Island, Gunner’s Quoin, Pigeon Rock, and Serpent Island. These islands are notable for bird life such as tropicbirds, puffins, and petrels; as well as rare reptiles. Round Island contains the sole relict of the palm savanna vegetation of Mauritius, as well as large numbers of seabirds. Continue reading

Leeward and Windward Islands

Map of the Month: Leeward and Windward Islands
Map boundaries: 10 to 20 degrees North; 56 to 64 degrees West
Countries: Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica, France (Guadeloupe, Martinique, St. Barthelemy, St. Martin), Grenada, Netherlands (Saba, Sint Maartin, Sint Eustatius), St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, United Kingdom (Anguilla, Montserrat), Venezuela (Delta Amacura, Federal Dependencies, Monagas, Sucre, Nueva Esparta)

The subduction of the South American and North American plates underneath the Caribbean Plate has led to the development of an island arc extending north from South America. To the north, the Leeward Islands consist of a western mountainous volcanic arc, extending from Saba (Netherlands Antilles) south to Basse Terre (Guadeloupe). An eastern arc of islands, extending from Sombrero Island (Anguilla) south to Marie-Galante (Guadeloupe), is less mountainous and made of limestone. Major limestone-only islands are Anguilla, St. Martin, St. Barthelemy, Barbuda, Grande-Terre, Desirade, and Marie-Galante. South of the Leeward Islands are the Windward Islands, extending from Dominica to Grenada, which consist of a series of volcanoes. Barbados, Tobago, and Trinidad make up an additional line of islands extending on the South American Plate-Caribbean Plate boundary. In the southwest of the map is a small portion of the coastal range of Venezuela, the Paria and Araya peninsulas of Venezuela, and Margarita Island, a large island north of the Venezuelan coast. Continue reading