If the Diamond is first known for its huge white sand beach, it remains a place steeped in history.
The Taking of the Diamond Rock : His Majesty's sloop of war
In the Caribbean, Martinique is best known for its destructive volcano, Mount Pelee, but south of the island, facing the village of Diamant, stands another witness of explosive volcanism: a rocky peak 175 meters high and 300 meters in diameter: the Diamond Rock. It owes its name to its beveled tip shape and the reflections of the walls at certain times evoking those of a gemstone.
Sixteen months of English occupation on Diamond Rock
An iconic blockade
178 guns and 1500 men
Les 17 gravures historiques du Rocher
Endowed with a certain talent, he will represent the English installation, the organization of the daily life and the battle of June 1805, that of the English side. It must be said that he had spent more than a month on this rock. This rare and informative collection is now the property of the departmental archives of Martinique.
His Majesty’s Sloop-of-War Diamond Rock
Little funny anecdote: the English considered the rock as a building of the Royal Navy. Since then, tradition has it that every time a British ship goes offshore, it fires a cannon to greet His Majesty’s Sloop-of-War Diamond Rock.
The rock is still French today. Of this military epic, only the ruins of a hospital remain today.
Fauna and Flora
A stunning refuge for fauna and flora. Since 1994, the site is managed by the Conversatoire du Littoral and has become a protected site where only scientists are allowed to dock. It houses the last Couresse snakes and serves as a breeding and resting area for seabirds.
By its inaccessibility, the Diamond Rock is a site particularly conducive to the reproduction of seabirds.
The Red-billed Phaeton, the Bridled Tern and the Brown Noddi nest there; the Brown Mads gather there…. It is estimated that a thousand seabirds frequent the rock, including more than 300 nesting pairs.
A multitude of animals populate the Rock. Some are very rare, such as the crab Gécarcinus ruricola, it is found in very dry areas. Others, however, are much more familiar.
There is a variety of lizards: Anolis roquet, brownish color, they blend perfectly with stones and branches.
In the past there were harmless snakes called couresses.
The caves of the Rock, shelter a bat called Brachyphylle of the caves, existing that in the Lesser Antilles, it has a snout in the shape of snout which earns them the nickname of bat with heads of pig. They feed on nectar and fruit and play a very important role in pollinating dry forest trees (notably: the cheesemaker and the courbaril) in seed dispersals.
The vegetation on the Rock is essentially made up of cactus candles, because the soil is stony and very superficial, almost unable to retain water.
To save this resource, many plants have adopted a shrubby form.
Some species develop real strategies to store water, such as cacti. They manage to fill their tissues with water, but in addition their stem is specially designed to inflate and retract according to the quality of liquid they store.
The influence of marine winds
Vegetation can adapt to various factors, but it sometimes affects its morphology. Sea winds often cause plants to grow on one side because the salt from the sea spray inhibits the growth of buds facing the wind.
Four species from dry and sunny environments, along with candle cacti, predominate on the islet:
- The Poirier (Tabebuia heterophylla) with its pale pink flowers.
- A vine known as “Bois couleuvre” (Capparis Flexuosa), and sporadically, “Figuiers maudits” (Ficus Citrifolia), which also cling to the walls with their powerful roots. Due to its isolation, it’s possible that the rock shelters unknown plants. The very specific conditions that prevail there could indeed have led the flora to evolve and give rise to new species.
- The White Frangipani (Plumeria alba) with its fragrant white flowers.
Candle Cacti: Cacti have found an even more radical technique to reduce transpiration: they are simply devoid of leaves, showing a regression to the point of becoming spines.
It is prohibited to approach the islet, but experienced divers come to explore the waters around it, where the wildlife is abundant despite the currents: barracudas, jacks, and green turtles.
Its clear waters, underwater caves, crevices, and corals make it one of the best diving sites on the island.
The wall vegetation
For the wall vegetation, a further constraint arises: to be able to find a way to attach to the ground. Some plants have solved the problem by developing small crampons on their roots.