Friday, July 11, 2014


Phoenix Islands Protected Area (PIPA) – east of Gilbert Islands, west of & Line Islands;; 8 island atoll group (Birnie, Enderbury, Gardner (Nikumaroro), Hull (Orona), Kanton (Abariringa, northernmost), McKean (northwesternmost), Phoenix (Rawaki) & Sydney (Manra)) & 2 submerged coral reefs (Carondelet & Winslow Reefs); home to 120 coral & 500 fish species; entire Phoenix group and surrounding waters is protected area (160K sq mi); group uninhabited except for few families on Kanton, 41 persons (as of 2005), most living in abandoned structures from UK/US occupation (1936-76); Kanton encloses 15 sq mi lagoon; island is mostly bare coral, covered with herbs, bunch grasses, low shrubs & few trees; Enderbury is low, flat, small coral atoll with tiny lagoon; island has seen little human impact following last few colonists’ (4 in number) evacuation in 1942, during WWII; Birnie is small, flat coral island with tiny lagoon, declared wildlife sanctuary in 1975; McKean is 57 hectares, devoid of fresh water or trees, though it does have hypersaline lagoon; world’s largest nesting population of lesser Frigate bird (up to 85K birds); Rawaki has several freshwater pools, only known freshwater wetlands in Phoenix Islands; Manra has large, salty lagoon & covered with coconut palms, scrub forest, herbs and grasses; definite evidence of prehistoric inhabitation, in form of at least dozen platforms and remains of enclosures; Orona, like Kanton, is narrow land ribbon surrounding sizable lagoon; also contains evidence of prehistoric Polynesian inhabitation; ancient stone marae stands on eastern tip; Nikumaroro encloses large central lagoon, with profuse vegetation; Amelia Earhart might have crash-landed her plane on island; deepest and largest World Heritage site.

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