Coral above and below the water

The strange landscape here in Qilqila on Vanua Balavu is a result of the volcanos here on the Pacific rim: former reefs and coralheads were raised by tectonic activity and are now forming sheer cliffs and a maze of tiny islands. Why the cliffs aren’t all the same height (like on other raised atolls) seems mysterious–maybe there were different tectonic events over time… The spiky coral structures are overgrown by an incredibly hardy vegetation–some trees cling to the bare, vertical rock! Over the centuries the waves have gnawed on the rocks and eroded them to a point where the shores have impressive overhangs, giving the “mushroom islands” their typical shape. In the meantime new coral has grown below, so now we see coral skeletons above and pretty reefs below the surface.

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