Europa Island, located in the Indian Ocean between Madagascar and Africa, was formed by live coral growing on the extinct top of an underwater volcano. Although very small, the semi-circular shape of Europa Island is now home to diverse species of sea birds, land birds, and reptiles, including the last stable group of nesting green sea turtles in the entire world. The Hawksbill Turtle
can also be found nesting on Europa.
Europa Island's warm, tropical climate is prone to occasional cyclones and includes a variety of wildlife habitats, including a shallow protected bay on one side, a network of mangrove swamps, a patch of brushy thicket, and lots of sissal and other wild grasses that cover and abandoned plantation. The water temperature of the lagoon hovers around 86 degrees Fahrenheit, and the lagoon itself goes almost completely dry at low tide. The White Tailed Tropic Bird makes its home in lagoon area, and has morphed over time into golden and brown subspecies: something it has done nowhere else.
Land birds unique to Europa Island include the Madagascar White-eye, the Dimorphic Egret, the Madagascar Pond Heron, the barn owl, and the pied (or white) crow. Two species of lizard, Mabuya cormorensis infralineata and Cryptoblepharus butonii biteaniatus, and over 55 unique species of insects call Europa Island home. One rare wasp, a Chalcedoid species found commonly only on Europa, is a parasite of the red ant.
Europa Island, like many small coral islands in the warm Indian Ocean, hosts a very delicate ecosystem that can be damaged easily when mainland animals or plants are introduced. One such animal, the wild goat, has become so plentiful it is now a pest. Other invasive species introduced from the mainland include the black rat (which eats the eggs of many seabirds), donkeys, cats, and rabbits.