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When we think of an island, the first thing that comes to mind is a heaven of clean golden beaches, perfect for relaxing and sunbathing. 

But if I were to tell you that for some islands, the main attraction is not what can be done on the beach, but what can be seen from above?

This collection of aerial images shows the unique shapes of some of Earths’s islands. We are going to explore two on this journey: the island of Li Galli in Italy and the other is the island of Heimaey in Iceland. One dolphin-shaped, and the other elephant-shaped.

Li Galli, an island that when seen from above looks like a dolphin, in reality is a small archipelago of three islands located between Capri and Positano, just a few kilometers up from Napoli, Italy.

The archipelago consists of: Gallo lungo (long Rooster) – which is the largest island – La Rotunda (Round) and La Castelluccia (the Castle), and the entire area is part of the Marine Protected Region called Punta Campanella. 

The archipelago is also known under the name of The Sirens, because according to the legend, in the past it was inhabited by mermaids, who mesmerized transiting seamen with their song.

Also, according to mythology, only two ships didn’t manage to slam in to the rocks: that of Ulysses, whose story is told in Homer’s Odyssey, and the Argonauts, who were saved thanks to Orpheus. 

The name Li Galli comes precisely from the iconography of mermaids, which in archaic Greek art, are not half woman and half fish, but rather half woman and half bird.

Li Galli has fascinated many people during the years, and many famous people wanted to own it. In 1924, Leonide Massine, the Russian choreographer and dancer, bought the archipelago that was at that time covered with Roman ruins. Together with architect Le Corbusier, he built a magnificent villa. 

After his death, the property was purchased in 1989 by another famous Russian dancer, Rudolf Nureyev. Shortly after his untimely death in 1993, the archipelago again changed owners.

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Moving on to our second sculpture, there is a huge rock on the Heimaey island, located in southwestern Iceland, which resembles an elephant that comes out of the Atlantic with its massive trunk. As bizarre as it may seem, it was “sculpted” by nature.

Like a giant elephant that sinks its trunk into the sea, the mammal shaped rock from Heimaey is a true masterpiece of nature. Over the centuries, wind sculpted the dark colored lava and basalt, until it gave the shape of a giant elephant. It’s like the creature came to the ocean to drink some water, or it may actually come out from the water, after a secular swim.

Heimaey is often subjected to volcanic eruptions: it is believed that when in 1973, Eldfell (Mountain of Fire) volcano errupted, locals rushed to pump the cold sea water on the lava flows. Therefore, strange formations can be found throughout the Heimaey island.

The name Heimaey translates as “home”. It has 4,500 inhabitants, the most populated of the Vestmannaeyjar archipelago, that annually attracts hundreds of thousands of tourists, curious to see this “miracle” of nature.

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