If you sail from the coastal city of Itanhaém in Brazil and head south, you’ll come across a small island. It’s unassuming and measures just over 100 acres – and no one lives there. That’s because Ilha da Queimada Grande hides a deadly secret. And only a handful of intrepid travelers and scientists have made the journey to the atoll to report back on its treasures.
If you view Ilha da Queimada Grande from a boat, it may look inviting. Its rainforest probably gives the impression of a jungle paradise to onlookers, and its sandy beaches look like the perfect places to spend a lazy hour or two. The climate is ideal for barefoot strolls, too, getting to a balmy 66 degrees Fahrenheit in winter and rising to 82 degrees when summer kicks in. But don’t be fooled by this air of idyll.
Once you land on Ilha da Queimada Grande, it becomes even more deceiving. Think thick foliage and outcrops of rock wherever you look – and the sound of waves landing on the shores never being too far away. But this spectacular landscape hides one of the natural world’s deadliest predators.