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Life on the tiny tropical island of Aride the size of just 126 football pitches!

Aride Island was split into three distinct areas, or four if you counted the sea alongside the beach, plateau and hill. The beach was 750m of white sand on the south side of the island; extremely dynamic, with the tide changing its appearance and sand distribution daily. This in turn determined the presence or absence of rocks, which had a knock-on effect for humans and wildlife alike. For us, a sandy beach was preferable and at times essential for launching the boat, as there was no jetty or structure to help with this. All launches relied on the boat being manually held in the surf, waiting patiently for a gap in the waves. As for the wildlife, it was the hawksbill (below) and green turtles that sought a covering of sand, with the fewer obstructions on the beach the better so they could reach the crest to lay their eggs.

The small area of flat plateau ran along the length of the beach crest, dominated by woodland but intersected by a network of sandy paths used as visitor trails and access routes. However, the most striking feature was the large imposing wooded hill behind, with the highest point to the west reaching a prominent raised area at 140m above sea level. Fortunately far too hostile for humans, the rugged nature of the hill was key to it supporting internationally significant wildlife populations of numerous species, such as terns, shearwaters and frigate birds.

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