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The Santa Maria de Colombo | by David Chennell - DavidC.Photography
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The Santa Maria de Colombo


The Desertas Islands are a small Portuguese archipelago, located about 25 km to the southeast of the eastern tip of the island of Madeira.


It is a chain of three long and narrow islands that stretch over a distance of 23 km north-south. Administratively, the islands are part of the municipality of Santa Cruz, Madeira, and therein of the civil parish of the same name. The islands are a designated nature reserve and a licence is needed to land there. Though close to the main island of Madeira, where the islands can often be seen on the horizon, the geology of the Ilhas Desertas is starkly different. The high, long, and rocky islands of the group are barren of soil, and the only wildlife consists of about sixteen species of birds, including eight species of seabirds, and a scarce population of feral goats, rabbits, and rodents, brought from Portugal by the mariners who first touched the rocky shores. Native species of tarantula, as well as reptiles, also exist in the fragile and arid ecosystem.

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Taken on September 16, 2011