Stromatolites are cyanobacterial reefs - one of the oldest forms of visible life on our planet. Fossil stromatolites, like the ones shown here on the To Ndu beach and high up on the cliffs, have been carbon dated in other parts of the world dating back 3.5 billion years.
The cyanobacteria cement particles of sediment together in concentric layers forming mushroom or egg-shaped "colonies". The colonies are not especially large. The one Freddy is sitting on (to give you a sense of the size of the colonies) is about a metre in diameter. But the ancient stromatolite colonies clustered together to form massive reef structures.
The island of To Ndu, some 15 miles west of Noumea, is actually a fossil stromatolite reef, 1.3km long by 0.4km wide and 70 metres above the sea floor making it one of the larger fossil stromatolite reefs in the world. On the eastern side the sea has erroded the stromatolites, forming a flat surface tiled with the cross sectional view of the ancient colonies.
The concentric fossil colonies you see in this sphere image are undoubtedly very, very old but this ancient form of life is still alive and thriving here in New Caledonia (reference Pringault & Camoin 2005).
New Caledonia is the closest South Pacific Island to Australia and New Zealand. It is a French Territory and although the official language is French the culture is a blend of Melanesian, European, Polynesian, Vietnamese, Chinese, Indonesian, and more. There is one large mountainous island called Grande Terre and 6 smaller islands - the three Loyalty Islands, Belep and the Isle of Pines.The islands are remarkably unpopulated and there are vast areas of wilderness. There are hundreds of kilometers of walking treks, camp grounds, more than 42 parks and reserves, and crystal clear rivers with sparkling waterfalls. Almost one third of the population is located in the capital city of Noumea. Nickel mining is the primary industry and is the major contributor to the high standard of living in the country. Grande Terre is surrounded by the second largest barrier reef in the world and the protected lagoon created by this barrier reef is the largest in the world. Listed as a World Heritage Site in 2008, the lagoon is 24,000 square kilometers and supports a diverse and luxuriant fauna of fish and invertebrates.The vibrant, clear and rich colors are one of the first things that visitors notice when they arrive. Noumea has a complete range of hotels, resorts, restaurants, and activities to welcome visitors.