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Ocean life

Oceanic islands

Mauritius, an island in the Indian OceanMauritius, an island in the Indian Ocean Cut off from the continental land masses by stretches of ocean water, islands often have a range of plant and animal life that is uniquely their own. Some islands were once part of a larger land mass, while others are formed by underwater volcanoes rising from the ocean floor. As soon as an island forms, it begins to be colonized by plants and animals. Islands close to the main­land are colonized more quickly than remote ones.


Coconut palm and floating seedCoconut palm and floating seed

Plants

Plant seeds can travel across the oceans. They rely on the wind or water to carry them to islands. Seeds can also be carried in the fur or feathers of animals, or even in their digestive systems. The light seeds of small plants can travel further on the winds than those of large trees, so there are sometimes few, if any, trees on the most remote islands. But these small plants may, over many years, evolve into larger ones.

In 1835 Charles Darwin's observations of the differences in related types of finches on the Galapagos Islands helped him develop his theory of evolution.

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