Ascension Island

Part of the volcanically active Mid-Atlantic Ridge, Ascension Island is actually a mountain peak that rises 10,000 feet (3,048 meters) from the Atlantic floor. The Mid-Atlantic Ridge is a weakness in the Earth’s crust—as the plates of Africa and Europe pull away from the plates of North and South America, molten rock pushes up from below and eventually breaks through the surface of the sea. These rocky outcrops start life as barren islands, but with time turn into fertile lands. Ascension Island forms one of the volcanic islands that line the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. Evidence of its violent birth dots the landscape—from pyroclastic deposits (both mafic and silicic), trachyte lava flows and domes, scoria cones, and mafic lava flows.
Despite its barren volcanic landscape, Ascension Island is full of life and boasts an abundance of flora and fauna. One of its most unusual visitors is the green sea turtle. These docile reptiles usually feed along Brazil’s shoreline, but when the time comes to breed they swim out to sea and head for the shores of Ascension Island. After traveling for miles across the Atlantic Ocean, the turtles haul themselves onto the beach to deposit their eggs. How they find their way in the featureless ocean is a mystery, but there is some speculation about why they make the journey. At one time, Africa and South America were closer together, but as they separated a string of volcanoes broke the surface across the widening ocean. As each volcano stopped erupting and cooled, the turtles used its beaches as nesting sites, safe from mainland predators. Deprived of fresh lava, each volcanic
island was eroded by the sea, until it eventually vanished below the ocean. At this point the turtles migrated to the next available island, and gradually the traveling distance became greater. Today, they make this epic journey to Ascension Island.
Ascension Island is also home to an amazing array of bird life including red-footed booby, sooty tern, brown noddy, red-billed tropic bird, Indian myna. Green sea turtles, shark, wahoo, and barracuda also swim the waters surrounding the island.