Diamond Rock (Rocher du Diamant) is a 175 meter (574 feet) high basalt island located south of Fort-de-France, the main port of the Caribbean island of Martinique.
The uninhabited island is about three kilometers from Pointe Diamant. The island gets its name from the reflections that its sides cast at certain hours of the day, which evoke images of a precious stone. Its claim to fame is the role that it played in the Napoleonic Wars.
The rock is a volcanic plug, a remnant of the strong volcanic activity that affected the region some one million years ago.
However, a Captain Hansen of the Norwegian steamship Talsiman reported that on 13 May, 1902, he observed what he took to be a volcanic eruption from a hole in the rock. This was at the time of the devastating volcanic eruption Mount Pelée that destroyed Saint-Pierre. Hansen did not investigate further.
Like the other 47 islets that circle Martinique, the Rock has its own ecological characteristics. It is sunnier than the main island, drier, and subject to a long seasonal dry period. Today it is covered in undergrowth and cacti.
Relatively inaccessible and inhospitable, the island is uninhabited, which has permitted it to remain a sanctuary for a species that had been believed to be extinct.
A nature survey has suggested that Diamond Rock is probably the last refuge for a species of reptile once endemic to Martinique, the Couress grass snake (Liophis cursor).
Below water the Diamond Rock cavern, a deep triangular cave, is a popular attraction for scuba divers. The cave is said to contain prolific quantities of beautiful sea fans and corals, though strong currents make diving the island a risky venture.
The author John Fine reports that while diving he found one of the Rock's cannon that the French had toppled from the summit.
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