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Ilhéu de Maria Vaz

Nature Reserve

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Also known as Ilhéu da Gadelha (islet), the Ilhéu de Maria Vaz occupies about 10 hectares, the biggest of the island, and is located at approximately 100 metres from the northwest coast of the island.

It has a rounded shape, with a small platform on the top, and a maximum altitude of 151 metres, being composed mainly of geological formations associated with submarine volcanism of basaltic nature, namely altered surtseyan tuffs.

This islet is particularly covered by Azorean endemic vegetation, especially Festuca petraea, Erica azorica and Azorina vidalii, and is visited by a high number of seabirds, such as Sterna spp. It is also considered an important nesting site, particularly for Larus michahellis atlantis species.

In order to maintain its unique characteristics and due to its high scientific interest, the visit to the islet is prohibited.  However, it is possible to sight it through the Fajã Grande - Ponta Delgada (PR1FLO) or the Great Route of Flores (GR01FLO) walking trails.

This protected area integrates the Costa Nordeste Special Area of Conservation (SAC), within the Natura 2000 network, and an Important Bird and Biodiversity Area (IBA) of the BirdLife International organization. Its exterior limit borders the Costa Norte Protected Area of Resources Management.

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