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Mozambique Channel

SeaWiFS captured this full image of Madagascar plus the Comoros and part of the Seychelles in a recent overpass. (Photo: SeaWiFS)

The Mozambique Channel is an arm of the Indian Ocean and is located between the eastern coast of Africa and the Island of Madagascar. The climate is tropical to subtropical with high summer rainfall.


A western boundary current moves southwestward between the African coast and Madagascar. The Mozambique Channel is bordered by long stretches of sandy beach, holds magnificent coral reefs, sea grass beds that feed the turtles and dugongs, and many fish species.


Natural resources of the region include graphite, chromium, coal, bauxite, salt, quartz, tar sands, semiprecious stones and mica. Various fish is the major marine economic source.


Deforestation and extensive farming in connection with heavy rainfall cause massive erosion of topsoil along the African coast. Red sediments from lateritic soils (iron oxides) - which can be traced from satellite - fill rivers and are discharged into the Mozambique Channel in wide spread, red plumes.



Unique ancient and modern wild life


The Mozambique Channel area offers a World wide unique, richly divers wild life of modern and ancient mammal-, reptile- and fish species. Madagascar - the earth's fourth largest island located at the eastern margin of the channel – long time remained a biological mystery to the scientific World.


Once part of the super continent known as Gondwana consisting of the modern continents Africa, India, South America, Australia and Antarctica before some 300 million years, Madagascar broke off and became an isolated island almost 90 million years ago.


As Madagascar drifted away from its mother continent Africa, the island became isolated so soon in Geological time scales that it served as refuge for unique evolutionary designs. As a result, all of Madagascar's mammals, 85 per cent of its reptile species, and nearly 80 per cent of its plants live nowhere else in the World. The most popular Madagascar endemic mammals are the lemurs: furry, monkey-like animals with foxy faces, many are vividly patterned and discolored. Living species of these lower primates vary from the size of mice to that of chimpanzees. An extinct species, Megaladapis, was the biggest of all and probably had a weight of about 200 kilogram!



The recent discovery of rare dinosaur fossils on Madagascar significantly advanced paleontologists' knowledge and understanding of the history and evolution of dinosaurs. According to the findings, dinosaurs and early mammals lived together on Madagascar roughly 70 millions years ago. The various fossils document that a two-meter-tall dinosaur was still a small species at that time.


Another biological phenomenon is the famous Coelacanth. This fish species is a 400 million year old ”living fossil”, which normally should be extinct since 65 millions years as thought from the 125 fossils found until today! However, the bonefish still swims on in the waters of the Mozambique Channel and was ”discovered” on a fish market in 1938! Biologists later found that the species lives in water depths of 200 to 300 since millions of years.



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