The Juan Fernandez Archipelago, a paradise for the animal kingdom

Composed by three islands, Robinson Crusoe, Alejandro Selkirk and Santa Clara, the Juan Fernandez archipelago counts with an impressive diversity of animal species.

JOSE CARVAJAL/AGENCIAUNO/TERRA
JOSE CARVAJAL/AGENCIAUNO/TERRA

The three islands that form the Juan Fernandez Archipelago are located 670 km. away from our continental territory. Robinson Crusoe island, previously known as “Más a Tierra” (that roughly translates as closer to land) for its position regarding the rest of the islands, Alejandro Selkirk or “Más Afuera” (away from land) and Santa Clara, are considered part of a unique place in the world, not only because of their flora and fauna, but also for their incredible geography.

Having a tropical climate, volcanic islands, a history that includes pirate-related tales and a geography marked by majestic cliffs surrounding clear water costs; Juan Fernandez has remained an enigmatic place for the general Chilean population, becoming a perfect destination for those who love nature and outdoor sports, such as trekking and hiking. It is also important to highlight that the costs of Robinson Crusoe are perfect to practice diving and discovering the unique underwater landscape.

The amount of species that live in the archipelago is remarkable, turning it into one of the places with higher levels of endemism in the world; this means that most of the species that exist in any of the islands are not to be found in anywhere else in the planet. It is not only the physical isolation that provokes this particular phenomenon on the local wildlife, but also the effect of ocean currents that maintains the ecosystem away from other islands. This is the case of the Juan Fernández fur seal that is the only endemic mammal, or the Juan Fernández firecrown, the only insular firecrown species that exists in the world.

Taking into consideration the importance of protecting these species and supported by studies carried out in 2014 and 2015 by researchers of The University of Hawaii and National Geographic and published by Oceana NGO, it was discovered that Robinson Crusoe and Santa Clara, together with Desventuradas Islands, had a 62% level of endemic marine species. This is the highest number around the world. This fact is particularly important because the archipelago is located in the way of migratory routes of worldwide protected animals, such as the humpback whale, the majestic blue whale or sperm whales, among other cetacean.

The area is the epicentre for scientific studies and research that continue to find new species. It is also relevant for inhabitants and fishermen of the islands, who have always been concerned with taking care and protecting the unique resources of the archipelago.

This post is also available in Spanish