An archipelago of about 2,300 islands located halfway between Africa and Indonesia, the British Indian Ocean Territory is a group of islands with a rich tropical climate. The terrain tends to be flat and low, with the highest point in the territory just 15 meters above sea level. The ecosystems in this group of islands includes marine and tropical rain forest.
As with many tropical islands, the fauna of the British Indian Ocean Territory includes a rich variety of indigenous fish and insects. The marine fish for which the area is known include the Chagos Anemonefish
, the Chagos Dottyback
, and indigenous species of gobies. There are also notable native mollusks including the Nymph's Cowrie, and a native aquatic mammal called the Long-Beaked Dolphin. Although they are not native by the strictest definition, several different types of whale can be seen in the waters surrounding the territory as the archipelago is part of a migratory path.
The land is shared by a rich variety of endemic invertebrates. The St. Valentine's Day Moth, the Crambid Moth, and the Meadow Argus Butterfly are three notable native insects. However, there are no known endemic species of land mammal known to scientists. Because man has introduced so many mammals to the area, including rats, cats, and other disruptive animals, there may have once been endemic mammals that were displaced by their new neighbors.
The British Indian Ocean Territory was once home to a variety of amphibians and reptiles. Many of these species are now extinct or endangered. The Hawksbill turtle
and the Olive Ridley turtle
are two endangered inhabitants of the territory that are currently being protected by the British government.