Cocos Island

Cocos Island is a 100-acre island at Guam’s Southern Coast surrounded by a clear, turquoise lagoon off the shores of Merizo accessible by glass-bottom boats. Besides being a favorite picnic/dining site, Cocos Island is the focus of international attention as a Spanish galleon wreak site which has yet to be recovered. Ten commercial divers and underwater archaeologists have been excavating the ocean depths since may 98.

In June 2, 1690, the Neustra Senora del Pilar de Zaragosa y Santiago hit the southern reef at Cocos Island. It was enroute from Acupulco, Mexico to an annual fair in Manila with shipments of silver swords and artifacts. With its bottom torn, the Spanish Manila galleon sank in ocean waters at depths of 30 to 87 feet. Its naval crew, and some Franciscan missionaries escaped the galleon before it slipped into the ocean shelf. Ships that sailed the trade route carry silks, spices and jewelry from Manila to Acapulco. These items were traded and the galleons carried silver and gold ingots and Spanish coins back across the Pacific to manila.

==== COCOS ISLAND – FLORA

The island has 235 known species of flowering plants, of which 70, or nearly 30%, are endemic. A good comprehensive study on the flora of the island is provided in the journal Proceedings of the California Academy of Sciences . Also, 74 species of ferns and fern allies (lycopodiophytes and pteridophytes, and 128 species of mosses and liverworts (bryophytes), 90 species of fungi and 41 species of slimemolds have been reported .

==== COCOS ISLAND – FAUNA

The island has over 400 known species of insects, of which 65 (16%) are endemic. The greatest diversity is found among the Lepidoptera and Formicidae. Over 50 species of other arthropods have been described (spiders, centipedes, millipedes, and isopods), including the endemic spider Wendilgarda galapagensis.Two species of lizard are found on the island, a anole (Norops townsendii) and a gecko (Sphaerodactylus pacificus); both are endemic. No amphibians have been reported.

Marine fauna – The rich coral reef, volcanic tunnels, caves, massifs and deeper waters surrounding Cocos Island are home to more than 30 species of coral, 60 species of crustaceans, 600 species of molluscs and over 300 species of fish. These include large populations of yellowfin tuna (Thunnus albacares), giant mantas (Manta birostris), sailfish (Istiophorus platypterus) and sharks, such as white-tips (Triaenodon obesus) and hammerheads (Sphyrna lewini). The largest of all species of fish is also present, the whale shark (Rhincodon typus).

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