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tlr online
21-02-05, 00:18
Thousands of unique species of plants and animals live only on the island of Madagascar, the northern end of which is visible in this true-color Terra MODIS image from February 12, 2005. This fourth-largest island in the world has been genetically and geographically isolated from Africa and the rest of the world for millions of years, which has given it one of the highest rates of unique species on the planet: 90 percent of its reptiles, 80 percent of its plants, and 46 percent of its birds are found nowhere else on Earth. Despite these facts, over 80 percent of its indigenous forests have been destroyed, and virtually all of the original vegetation on the island's central plateau has been cleared for agricultural purposes.

Near image center is Betsiboka Estuary. It runs red from the island's eroded soil, and creates green plumes of sediment in the waters of the Mozambique Channel. Scattered throught the rest of the image are red dots; these mark where the MODIS instrument detected heat anomalies, all of which are likely agricultural fires. To the west of Madagascar in the Indian Ocean, a swath of sunglint gleams silver on the water. Sunglint is a term used to identify sunlight that reflects off of water and creates a glare on MODIS' "eye."

http://modis.gsfc.nasa.gov/gallery/images/image02202005_md.jpg

Copyright 2005 NASA