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Olympic Torch in paradise: relay spends day in island oasis

2016-06-07 14:49:00 Rio 2016

Rio 2016 Olympic Torch Relay makes memorable visit to ecological sanctuary off coast of northeastern Brazil.

It's easy to see why the beaches on Fernando de Noronha are regularly voted the best in Brazil (Photo: Rio 2016/Andre Luiz Mello)

Marking World Environment Day on Sunday (5 June), the Rio 2016 Olympic Torch Relay visited the spectacular island paradise of Fernando de Noronha. The distant archipelago, over an hour's flight from the coast of northeastern Brazil, is a UNESCO world heritage site and is one of Brazil's most celebrated destinations for ecotourism.

The tip of a volcanic formation in the South Atlantic Ocean, Fernando de Noronha is a sanctuary for marine life and tropical seabirds. One of the first stops for the torch relay on Sunday was Projeto Tamar, an organisation which is studying and preserving the sea turtle population of the islands. Projeto Tamar's Gilvânio da Silva was the first torchbearer.

The relay then took to the sea for a close encounter with some of the archipelago's resident dolphin community, one of the largest in the world. More than 50 dolphins frolicked alongside the boat where marine biologist Zaira Matheus was holding the Olympic torch.

"The sea around Fernando de Noronha has so many beautiful things, but the most special moment is when you are diving and the dolphins suddenly appear. They swim right next to you and look in your eyes. It's as if they are giving you permission to be here, it's amazing," she said.

After the emotional meeting with the dolphins, local surfer Patrick Tamberg Amarante took the torch for a short journey over the waves in a canoe, before transferring the flame to television sports presenter Carol Barcellos.

The last of the torchbearers on this island paradise was Ademir Rogerio, who has lived on Fernando de Noronha for 28 years. "I am an athlete and whenever I saw the Olympic Games on television I wanted to be there. Now I am taking part, representing the island that I love so deeply."

After an unforgettable day on this island paradise, the Rio 2016 Olympic Torch Relay is now back on the mainland, journeying through the northeastern state of Rio Grande do Norte.

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