The remote location of ‘the Galapagos of the Atlantic’ has allowed the island to evolve a unique biological diversity, with around 500 endemic species of flora and fauna discovered on the island.
St Helena has no native land mammals, but is a haven for birdlife, including the endangered St Helena plover or ‘wirebird’. The ocean waters surrounding the island host incredibly diverse coral ecosystems which are home to marine wildlife found nowhere else in the world.
When on a safari in St Helena, the main activities are snorkelling and swimming with whale sharks. The world’s largest living fish, these giants migrate to the seas around the island during the summer months of January and February, where they filter plankton with their cavernous mouths. Whale sharks each have a unique colouration pattern of white spots and stripes, allowing researchers to identify and keep track of individual sharks. Relatively little is still known about whale sharks, but they are believed to have a lifespan of over 100 years and have been recorded migrating thousands of miles each year. Despite their colossal size reaching up to 40 feet in length, whale sharks are very docile and pose no threat to humans so you can swim freely alongside them as they graze the ocean's surface. This is strictly regulated and only a handful of visitors are able to experience this incredible opportunity each year.
The coral reefs and rocky outcrops surrounding St Helena are brimming with fascinating marine wildlife, including Hawksbill turtles, devil rays and tropical fish.
The island of St Helena itself is a birders paradise, with colonies of seabirds including masked boobies, red-billed tropicbirds and fairy terns migrating across the Atlantic ocean to nest on the coastal cliffs. The St Helena plover, locally known as the wirebird because of its long, wiry legs, is the last remaining endemic bird species and the national bird of the island.
Plantation House, the residence of the Governor of St Helena, is also home to several Seychelles giant tortoises who were first brought to the island in 1882. The oldest of the tortoises, Jonathan, is thought to be over 180 years old - making him the oldest land animal in the world!