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'''Sainte Marie - Nosy Boraha is the largest amongst the chain of small islands located at the east coast of Madagascar.
''' The island had been known as Isola Santa Maria since the 16th century when it was discovered by the Portuguese. Following their custom, the discoverers gave the name of the saint of the day to the places where they disembarked. They named Madagascar Isola Santa Lorenzo and when they saw Nosy Boraha, they baptised it Isola Santa Maria, a name which was later Gallicised as Sainte Marie when the French settled there in the 17th century.
The island of Sainte Marie is rich in legends and anecdotes: One early story tells the tale of a man who while sailing in his pirogue was carried far away by a whale, then miraculously returned to the island by a dolphin, a legend reminiscent of the story of Jonas and the whale. Another presents the island as an ancient den of pirates and buccaneers from where such famous names as Nathaniel North, David Williams, Thomas Tew, La Buse and Plantain operated. By the beginning of the 18th century, it was rumored that with their innumerable crews their number reached over a thousand.
But what has given a special cachet to Sainte Marie in recent years is the arrival of the humpback whales which come up from the Antarctic to this area during the mating season and give themselves up to unforgettable and very noisy frolicking. Each year from June to October they can be observed on the west coast of the island.
''Text from "Passport for Madagascar" - July, August 2017 - 101st edition''