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Fernado de Noronha Marine National Park (Arquipélago de Fernando de Noronha)





Location: 354 km (220 miles) Northeast of the Brazil shore  Map

Area: 26 km2 (10 sq mi)



Description of Fernado de Noronha Marine National Park

Fernando de Noronha is a Brazilian archipelago from the state of Pernambuco. Made up of 21 islands, islets and cliffs of volcanic origin, it occupies a total area of ​​26 km² - 17 km² of which is the main island - and is located in the Atlantic Ocean northeast of mainland Brazil, 545 km from the Pernambuco capital Recife, and 360 km from Natal in Rio Grande do Norte. The commercial center of the island is the urban core of Vila dos Remédios. The administration of the National Park is currently in charge of the Chico Mendes Institute for Biodiversity Conservation (ICMBio).

First sighted between 1500 and 1502, its discovery is attributed to an expedition led by the explorer Fernão de Loronha, although there is controversy; however it is certain that the first to describe it was Américo Vespucci, in an expedition carried out between 1503 and 1504. The first hereditary captaincy of Brazil, the archipelago suffered constant invasions of English, French and Dutch between the 16th and 18th centuries. On September 24, 1700, Fernando de Noronha became, by royal letter, a dependency of Pernambuco, the captaincy with which he already had a historical connection. In 1736, the island was invaded by the French East India Company, renamed Isle Dauphine, but the following year an expedition sent by Recife expelled the French.

In 1942, with the Second World War, the archipelago became federal territory, whose acronym was FN, to serve as an advanced base of war; but returned to the Pernambuco administration four and a half decades later, in 1988. Currently Fernando de Noronha is a state district of Pernambuco, and is managed by a general administrator appointed by the state government.

Following a campaign led by environmentalist José Truda Palazzo Júnior, on October 14, 1988 most of the archipelago was declared a National Park, with about 11 270 ha, for the protection of endemic species there and the spinner dolphins concentration area. (Stenella longirostris), which meet daily at Dolphin Bay - the most regular observation site of the species on the entire planet. In 2001 UNESCO declared Fernando de Noronha a World Heritage Site.





Many controversies mark the discovery of the archipelago by Europeans. At least three names - St. Lawrence, St. John and Lent - have been associated with the island at the time of its discovery. What is known for certain is that several expeditions reached the Brazilian coast between 1500 and 1503 and that the existence of the archipelago was known in Lisbon at least before January 16, 1504, when King Manuel I of Portugal made mercy. from "São João Island" to Fernão de Loronha - knight of His House, young Christian, great merchant and shipowner - as a hereditary captaincy, citing the beneficiary as discoverer of the island.

The island had undoubtedly been discovered some time before that, but for over a century the author, the precise date, and the circumstances of the find have given rise to much debate. One of the proposals is that it was discovered by a Portuguese mapping expedition that was sent in May 1501. The 1501 expedition is also known as Américo Vespucci's "third voyage" (and his first under the Portuguese flag). Vespucci relates this expedition twice - first in a letter to Lorenzo Pietro Francesco de Medici, written in early 1503, and again in his letters to Piero Soderini, written in 1504-1505. In his letter Vespucci does not mention the name of the captain of this 1501 expedition and his identity has been speculated. The 16th century chronicler Gaspar Correia suggested that it was André Gonçalves. Greenlee (1945) analyzed several possible names - and settled on the conjecture that it could be Fernão de Loronha himself, a hypothesis also suggested by Duarte Leite (1923). Loronha may have been credited with the discovery as the principal financier of a consortium of traders that aimed to exploit the rich redwood forests, which had been in business by royal mercy since 1501, and which maintained active trade until about the 1990s. 1540. Undoubtedly Loronha was one of the financiers of the expedition of 1503-1504, under the command of Captain Gonçalo Coelho, who took Vespucci aboard, and Loronha may have been aboard one of the ships that on July 24, 1503 sighted. the island then called Lent, later renamed St. John's Island, which would later bear its name. However, recent historiography considers it unlikely that Loronha personally participated in any of the trips.

Rabbit's expedition is also known as Vespucci's "Fourth Voyage" and is reported in the letter to Soderini. The expedition's flagship struck a reef and sank near the island and the crew and cargo had to be rescued. On Rabbit's orders, Vespucci anchored on the island and spent a week there, while the rest of Rabbit's fleet lay south. In his letter to Soderini, Vespucci describes an uninhabited island and recounts its name as "São Lourenço Island" (August 10 is the feast day of St. Lawrence, it was a custom of Portuguese explorations to name places according to the liturgical calendar). Historians have also hypothesized that a lost ship from the Rabbit fleet, under the command of an unknown captain, may have returned to the island (probably on August 29, 1503, the day of the feast of the decapitation of St. John the Baptist). to catch Vespucci, but did not find him or anyone else and returned to Lisbon with the news. Vespucci, in his letter, states that he left the island on August 18, 1503 and on his arrival in Lisbon a year later, on September 7, 1504, the people of the city were surprised, since "had been told" that the ship had been lost. Since Vespucci did not return to Lisbon until September 1504, the discovery must have been earlier. The main problem for the versions that rely on the famous Letter to Soderini is that modern criticism regards the letter as a forgery.


An island called Quaresma, much like Fernando de Noronha Island, appears in the Cantino Planisphere of 1502. Alberto Cantino's map was composed by an anonymous Portuguese cartographer and completed before November 1502, well before Coelho's expedition. be established. This led to speculation that the island was discovered by a previous expedition. However, there is no consensus on which expedition could have pioneered. The name, "Lent", suggests that the archipelago must have been discovered in March or early April, which does not correspond well with known expeditions. There is also a mysterious red island to the left of Quaresma on the Cantino map, which does not fit the island of Fernando de Noronha. Some have explained these anomalies by reading Lent as anaresma (of unknown meaning, but avoiding the Lent period), and proposing that the red island is just an accidental inkblot. Some modern historians have proposed that the Fernando de Noronha archipelago is not represented on the Cantino map. Instead, they proposed that Quaresma Island and the accompanying red "inkblot" are actually Rocas Atoll, a bit out of place on the map. Roukema concluded that the Rock Atoll was discovered by the "lost ship", which returned on March 16, 1502, well within the time of Lent.

According to Vespucci, the 1501 expedition returned to Lisbon in September 1502, still in time to influence the final composition of the Cantino map. Unfortunately, Vespucci does not report discovering this island; indeed, it is quite clear that the first time he (and his fellow sailors) saw the island was on the Rabbit expedition in 1503. However, a letter written by the Venetian emissary Pascualigo on October 12, 1502, and quoted in Marino Sanuto's diary reports that a ship arrived from "parrotland" in Lisbon on July 22, 1502 (three months before Vespucci). This could be a lost ship from the prematurely returned mapping expedition for which there is no information yet. The moment of his famous arrival (July 1502) makes it possible that he passed the island sometime in March 1502 on his return trip, well into the Lenten period.

Another theory is that the island was discovered in 1500, shortly after the arrival of the Second Armada of India, under the leadership of Pedro Alvares Cabral. After his brief stop on land in Porto Seguro, Bahia, Cabral dispatched a supply ship under the command of Gaspar de Lemos or André Gonçalves back to Lisbon to report the discovery. This returning supply vessel would have headed north along the Brazilian coast and may have reached the island of Fernando de Noronha and reported its existence to the Lisbon government in July 1500. However, this contradicts the name Quaresma, since the supply ship departed well after the time of Lent. A fourth (unlikely) possibility is that the island was discovered by João da Nova's Third Indian Armada, which departed from Lisbon in March or April 1501 and arrived back in September 1502, also in time to influence the Cantino Planisphere. . Chronicler Gaspar Correia states that on the outward journey, the Third Armada made a stop on the Brazilian coast around Cabo de Santo Agostinho. Two other chroniclers (João de Barros and Damião de Góis) do not mention the mainland, but they report the discovery of an island (which they believe to be identified as Ascension Island, but this is not certain). However, the schedule is very tight: Easter was on April 11, 1501, while the expected departure date of the Lisbon Third Armada varies from March 5 to April 15, leaving not enough time to reach these locations within Lent

The transition from the name of "St. John" to "Fernando de Noronha" was probably only by natural use. The royal charter, dated May 20, 1559, to descendants of the Noronha family, still refers to the island by its official name, São João Island. However, in other places, for example, Martim Afonso de Sousa's logbook in the 1530s he referred to the archipelago as "Fernão de Noronha Island" ("Noronha" was a common misspelling of "Loronha"). The informal name eventually became the official name.

Colonization and modern era

The merchant Fernão de Loronha not only received the island as an hereditary captaincy, but also from 1501 until 1512 held a monopoly over trade in Brazil. Between 1503 and 1512, the agents of Loronha set up a series of warehouses (trading posts) along the Brazilian coast and engaged in the redwood trade (a native wood that served as a red dye and was highly prized by European couturiers) with local indigenous peoples. The island of Fernando de Noronha was the central collection point of this network.

The redwood, continually harvested by the coastal Indians and delivered to the various coastal warehouses, was sent to the central warehouse on the archipelago, which was visited by a larger transport vessel taking the collected cargo back to Europe. Following the expiration of the Loronha business license in 1512, the organization of the redwood company was taken over by the Portuguese crown, but Loronha and its descendants maintained private ownership of the island as hereditary captaincy until at least the 1560s. Although valuable As a trading post, the first grantee expressed no interest in populating the island he baptized. Although the "sea captaincy" was extinct, his possession remained in Loronha's offspring - nor did he care about it - until September 24, 1700. According to the IBGE, "the grantee never took possession of his abandoned lands which attracted the attentions of many peoples, among which the Germans (who approached it in 1534), the French (also in approaches in 1556, 1558 and 1612), the English (in 1577), the Dutch (who settled there for 25 years, between 1629 and 1654) and the French (who lived there a year, between 1736 and 1737) ".

There is news of sending to the island of convicts, galleys and military condemned since the seventeenth century. In 1612 the Capuchin missionary Claude d'Abbeville was on the island for a few days, reporting the existence of "a Portuguese in the company of seventeen or eighteen Indians, men, women, and children, all slaves, and exiled here by the inhabitants of Pernambuco." . During the period of Dutch domination (1630-1654), the archipelago was leased to Michel de Pavw, renamed Pavonia. He continued to receive outcasts, now Dutch. Returning to the possession of the archipelago, at the end of the seventeenth century the Portuguese understood that it was necessary to fortify it. This only happened later, after a Royal Charter of September 24, 1700 attached it to the Pernambuco Captaincy. In 1736 the island was invaded by the French East India Company, renamed Isle Dauphine, but the following year an expedition sent by Recife expelled the French.

In 1739 Pereira Freire organized the island government, which was renamed Fernando de Noronha Prison. With this, the fortifications project, carried out by the military engineer Diogo de Silveira Veloso, was carried out, and the urban centers of Vila dos Remédios and Quixaba were erected. At the end of the eighteenth century the prison had five regular fortifications, with 54 guns. The garrison had 213 squares, 190 officers, 144 soldiers, 20 gunners and 30 Indians. There were still 6 civil servants, two chaplains, a bailiff, a warehouse clerk, a surgeon and a bleeder.


In 1817 Captain José de Barros Falcão de Lacerda was appointed to dismantle the fortifications and bring the military detachment and the sentenced to Pernambuco, but on October 3, 1833 the island became a destination for those sentenced to galleys for the crime of counterfeiting and grades. In 1844 there were 187 prisoners, including 4 women, 75 of whom were sentenced to galley, 28 to prison with forced labor and 84 to simple prison. A decree of March 5, 1859 updated its prison vocation, making it the fate of those condemned to imprisonment "when in the place where the sentence was to be executed, there was no secure arrest, in this case preceding the order of the Government." The decree specified that there would be sentenced to galleys for counterfeiting, military sentenced to six years or more of public works or fortifications, military sentenced to galleys for more than two years, and the deposed. The conditions were terrible. A mid-nineteenth-century report by war ministers states that “it was repugnant to the feelings of humanity and the most trivial precepts of decency that the barbaric practice of depriving these unfortunate segregates from the rest of the world until the indispensable to feed and cover their lives continues. nudity. "In 1873 there were 1,414 prisoners, and at that time thought to reform the prison and turn it into an agricultural penal colony, but nothing changed. In 1885 the island housed 2,364 prisoners, and it was difficult to keep them under control, exemplary punishments were imposed that caused scandal. Press reports cite harassment and trunk punishments, and many were accused of abuse and maladministration. After 1889 the Republican Government recognized “the abuses and irregularities that have been widely reported for many years are very serious. inspector committees ”during the imperial government, while recognizing that“ the difficulties of repression and Decree No. 854 of October 13, 1890 created the Judge of Law with full civil and criminal jurisdiction, the public prosecutor and registrar of Fernando de Noronha. In 1891 the archipelago was integrated to the State of Pernambuco, maintaining a prison run by the State Secretariat of Justice, which operated until 1910.

Scientific expeditions
Captain Henry Foster stopped on the island during his scientific research expedition as commander of the HMS Chantecler, which was established in 1828. To survey the ocean's back and currents, Foster used a Kater pendulum to make observations on gravity. He used the island as the junction point of his double line of longitudes that established his research. He was given considerable assistance by the Governor of Fernando Noronha, who let Foster use part of his own home for the pendulum experiments. Foster's Rio de Janeiro longitude was among those on one side of a significant discrepancy, which meant that the South American charts were in doubt.

To address this, the Admiralty instructed Captain Robert FitzRoy to command the HMS Beagle on a research expedition. One of his essential tasks was a stop at Fernando Noronha to confirm his exact longitude, using the 22 timers on board the ship to give accurate observation time. They arrived on the island in the late evening of February 19, 1832, anchoring at midnight. On February 20, FizRoy landed on a small piece of land to take observations, despite the difficulties caused by strong waves, and then sailed to Bahia later that night.

During the day, the island was visited by naturalist Charles Darwin, who was one of the passengers of the HMS Beagle. He made notes for his book on geology. He wrote of his admiration for the woods: "The whole island is a forest and is so densely interconnected that it takes a lot of effort to get through." "But I'm sure all the greatness of the tropics has not yet been seen by me ..." "We have not seen showy birds, no hummingbirds. No large flowers." His experiences in Fernando de Noronha were recorded in his diary, later published as The Voyage of the Beagle. He also included a brief description of the island in his 1844 Geological Observations on the Volcanic Islands, based on observations from HMS Beagle's voyage.


In the early twentieth century, the British even provided technical cooperation in telegraphy (The South American Company). Later, the French came with French Cable and the Italians with Italcable.





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