Monday, March 23, 2009

Assumption Island

Two days in the Seychelles. That was the great consolation prize we received because of the unrest in Madagascar. And not just any islands in the Seychelles - we went to two of the most remote: Assumption and Aldabra.

Our first port of call was Assumption, where Seychelles officials had specially flown to clear our ship into the nation. For reasons that are a bit murky, Assumption hosts a truly gigantic runway; you could land anything there, but few aircraft have any reason to. (Some speculate that one leader of the Seychelles wanted western countries to be able to send a large transport plane to evacuate him and his family in case of a coup.)

Assumption was super-duper hot. Many a traveler turned back before reaching the airstrip; we made it only by ducking into the shade of random Casuarina trees whenever possible. There's not much on the island today, either human or natural. It was once a thriving seabird colony, with rich soil (from the seabird guano) and lots of trees. Then guano mining took off, and much of the island was denuded. Mining ceased about 25 years ago, leaving behind rusty trucks and deteriorating buildings. The natural environment is rebounding, but only slowly.

Our bird species count for Assumption? Just four. Our new friend the Fody (this time the Aldabra Fody), Abbott's Sunbird, Red-whiskered Bulbul, and Greater Frigatebird.

The good news is that life still teems underwater. The patch reef is close, so we could snorkel off the beach. We again saw a host of colorful fish, plus a few larger predators like mackerel and trevally. We also were fortunate to be caught in a classic tropical downpour. The rain cooled us nicely and made a fascinating pattern on the surface of the ocean, but had no noticeable effect on the fish below. (We hope to have underwater pictures from our disposable camera once we are state-side.)

P.S. The idea of an economist being on Assumption Island which was once covered in guano does seem like rich material for an anti-economist joke. Take your best shot.


  1. Very intersting, I plan to visit later in the year, I would love to see any additional photo's you may have of assumption island.


  2. Hi Scott -- Wow, what's taking you out to Assumption? One of the hottest places we've ever been -- oh, and keep an eye out for the pirates.

    We'd be happy to share a couple more photos that show the landscape a bit. if you click on over to my professional blog:, you can use the contact feature to send me your email address, and I will reply with some photos. Best, --Donald

  3. Yeah ! poor assumption island , if people go there they should plant each a palm tree :o) in a few years we could do it ;o) Just wash the tree alot to not bring any devastating bugs ! I'll go there in a few years :o)

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  5. Hi, is there still any inhabitants on the island?
    Also could you mail me some pictures you took of the place please. My e-mail is

  6. Seychelles is a very exotic and beautiful place. I want to go there some day. Besides, your pictures encourage me to do it soon. Thanks for sharing them with us. Buy Viagra Viagra

  7. When you say it is super duper hot in there, I took a second look at the photos, and by just the look of those, yes, I can tell that it is really very, very hot in there!
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  8. Seychelles looks like a wonderful island!

  9. is there actually any inhabitants still left on the island? Because on GoogleEarth there is a post office and hospital! I know someone asked this above but for some reason I could not read it