Charles Darwin wrote 'April 12th - in the morning we stood out of the lagoon on our passage to the Isle of France. I am glad we have visited these islands; such formations surely rank high amongst the wonderful objects of this world.

'Captain Fitzroy found no bottom with a line 7200 feet in length, at the distance of only 2200 yards from the shore: hence this island forms a lofty submarine mountain, with sides steeper even than those of the most abrupt volcanic cone. The saucer shaped summit is nearly 10 miles across; and every single atom form the least particle to the largest fragment of rock, in this great pile, which however is small compared with the very many other lagoon-islands, bears the stamp of having been subject to organic arrangement.

'We feel surprise when travellers tell us of the vast dimensions of the Pyramids and other great ruins, but how utterly insignificant are the greatest of these, when compared to these mountains of stone accumulated by the agency of various minute and tender animals! This is a wonder which does not first strike the eye of the body, but, after reflection, the eye of reason.'