Pemba Island offers an exceptional terrestrial environment as unlike Unguja, Pemba has been isolated from the African continent for several millions of years and is therefore classified as a true oceanic island. This isolation means that Pemba supports a range of plants and animals which are found nowhere else in the world. Pemba is also unique in in the East African region as the island does not support heavy, polluting industry, natural runoff is negligible, and the use of fertiliser and pesticide application there is low, if non-existent. The pollution of coastal waters by human activities is therefore low.
Globally these habitats face a myriad of threats such as pollution and climate change. Pemba by comparison faces a few, extreme threats such as pollution and land use change, which with proper management can be reduced or even eliminated.
The humpback dolphin is a coastal dolphin that can be found along the coast of Africa and India south to Australia, areas differing for separate varieties. The humpback dolphin has a hump ahead of the dorsal fin, as well as a careen on a ventral side. The dorsal fin of the humpback dolphin is to some degree falcate.
The coconut crab (Birgus latro) is a species of terrestrial hermit crab, also known as the robber crab or palm thief. It is the largest terrestrial arthropod in the world, with a weight up to 4.1 kg (9.0 lb). It can grow to up to 1 m (3 ft 3 in) in length from each tip to tip of the leg. It is found on islands across the Indian Ocean, and parts of the Pacific Ocean as far east as the Gambier Islands and Pitcairn Islands, similar to the distribution of the coconut palm; it has been extirpated from most areas with a significant human population, including mainland Australia and Madagascar. Coconut crabs also live off the coast of Africa near Zanzibar.
The humpback whale (Megaptera novaengliae) is well known for its haunting song and energetic breaching displays. Despite being half the weight of the world’s largest mammal, the blue whale, the humpback still weighs a mighty 40 tons and can grow up to 18 meters in length. It is only the male whale who sings, and it is thought they do so to attract a mate.
The humpbacks which can be spotted off Pemba are part of the southwest Indian Ocean (SWIO) population. These whales breed along the east coast of Africa, Madagascar and the small oceanic islands, including Reunion, and then migrate south to Antarctica where they feed during the summer months (November to February).
The beautiful sounds of the Humback Whale