I invented this island for a submission to LA+ Journal's IMAGINATION competition asking entrants to design their own island. (There were essentially no restrictions except that its area cannot exceed one square kilometer.) Since it was a requirement, this is the first locale that I've actually positioned on the globe. There will probably be others, given that one of my fascinations is modifying parts of the earth and then predicting what climates/ecosystems they would have.
The drawings are a combination of watercolor and digital. I plan to expand the series to include more watercolors depicting plan and perspective views - likely with topographical overlays as with previous islands.
Shark Fin Island, named for its distinctive profile rising dramatically out of the mid-North Atlantic at the latitude of Nova Scotia, is the heavily-eroded product (along with surrounding seamounts) of a volcanic hotspot. Straddling climatic and biogeographic boundaries, sufficiently isolated to boast 95% plant endemism, ecologically diverse despite covering slightly less than 1 km2, and essentially free from human impacts, many consider it to be the planet’s most unique assemblage of plants and ecosystems.
The warm waters of Gulf Stream extend the subtropical zone northward to Shark Fin Island. This, combined with its location midway between North America and Europe, situates the island at the convergence of the Nearctic (northern New World), Palearctic (northern Old World), and Neotropical (tropical New World) Realms, each contributing evolutionary raw material transported by birds. Furthermore, a striking precipitation gradient, produced by steep topography that intercepts the prevailing westerlies, has enabled colonization by plant species from a variety of climates. The lowland forest, receiving 1200mm of rainfall annually at sea level, is dominated by species with origins in Bermuda, along with contributions from subtropical North America. The montane forest, with an annual rainfall of up to 2100mm, resembles the cloud forests of the Azores and is composed primarily of species originating there (with additions from Europe, temperate North America, and Caribbean cloud forests).
Isolation, topography and a paucity of edible fauna have protected the island from exploration, settlement, and invasive species; today, access is restricted to researchers. But its environment, created by a delicate balance of topographic, oceanic and atmospheric factors, is highly vulnerable to climate change. Overall precipitation is predicted to decrease, resulting in eventual disappearance of the already restricted montane forest, along with significant impacts at lower elevations. Accelerated efforts are underway to catalogue the island’s biota while it remains intact.