Beautiful images have emerged of a new island that has formed off the coast of Tonga – although scientists say it could soon disappear.
Local tour operator and photographer Gianpiero (GP) Orbassano, 63, took a friend and his son on a boat ride to check out the new island on Saturday.
The photographer took a series of breathtaking photos as he became the first person to set foot onto Earth’s newest island.
“First 3 humans landing in the new island,” Orbassano wrote on Facebook.
The island started forming in January after a volcano exploded underwater in December. It is about 1 mile long and is located between the older Hunga Tonga and Hiunga Ha’apai. The island is 28 miles northwest of Tonga’s capital, Nuku’alofa.
The land mass is made mainly of scoria, which is a dark colored volcanic rock that can sometimes contain crystals.
“It was a perfect day, with fantastic views – bright blue sky and the sea was the same colorr as the sky,” GP Orbassano told Tonga’s Matangi Online.
“The island is double the size of Fafa. There is a lot of rock, it’s not just ash. It looks like the moon.”
“There are thousands of seabirds- all kinds, laying eggs on the island,” he said.
A scientist told the BBC that the island remains extremely unstable and is not safe for visitors, and an expert added to The Telegraph that the island is expected to erode back into the ocean within a few months.
However, Orbassano said that although the cone shaped island is covered with deep channels that are unstable to walk on, he believed the island was about 820 feet high, making it large enough to remain above water long enough to attract tourists.
The adventurers said the surface of the island was still warm and, after climbing to the highest point of its crater, they caught sight of a vast green lake which smelt of sulphur.