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Coconut Crabs / Istockphoto

February 14, 2019. Life / Islands

Sri Lanka and Eastern Indian Ocean Islands

Nicholas D. Holmes, Olivier Langrand, Russell A. Mittermeier, Anthony B. Rylands, Thomas Brooks, Dena R. Spatz, James C. Russell, Wes Sechrest, Federico Mendez Sanchez

The islands of the Eastern Indian Ocean include one large island, the country of Sri Lanka (67,610 km2), and several smaller island chains, such as the Maldives and the Andaman and Nicobar islands.

In spite of the fact that a land bridge connected Sri Lanka with India in the recent geological past, levels of diversity and endemism are quite high, especially in the wet zone with its lowland and montane rain forests, but also in the dry part of the island. Agricultural development and increasing urbanization needed to accommodate the growing population are the main threats affecting natural ecosystems.

The Maldives (298 km2) are located in the Arabian Sea southwest of India. The archipelago is composed of 1,192 coral islands, grouped in a chain of 26 coral atolls, the result of a slight elevation of the Chagos-Lacadive submarine plateau.

South of the Bay of Bengal, the 325 islands of the Andaman Archipelago (6,408 km2) are located east of India and are separated from Myanmar in the east by the Andaman Sea. The Andaman Islands and the more southern Nicobar Islands (1,841 km2) are part of the island arch that extends from the Arakan Yoma Hill Range of Myanmar to the Sumatra Range of Indonesia.

In the middle of the Indian Ocean between Australia and Sri Lanka lie the Cocos (Keeling) Islands (14 km2)—an archipelago of 27 tropical atolls.

East of Cocos (Keeling) Islands, and south-west of Java, Christmas Island (135 km2) is the summit of a submarine mount. It reaches 360 meters above sea level and is covered with tropical rainforest. It is known for its high diversity of crabs, and more specifically the Red Crabs that perform spectacular annual migrations of millions of individuals, and the very large Coconut Crabs.


This is an excerpt from the CEMEX Nature Series Book “Islands” (2018)

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