Enderbury Island

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"Guano Island" redirects here. For another island with this name, see Guano Island (Antarctica).
Main articles: Kiribati and Phoenix Islands

Enderbury Island (Ederbury Island, Guano Island) is a small, uninhabited atoll 63 km ESE of Kanton Island in the Pacific Ocean at 3°08′S 171°05′W / 3.133°S 171.083°W / -3.133; -171.083. It is about 1 mile (1.6 km) wide and 3 miles (4.8 km) long, with a reef stretching out 60–200 metres. Forming a part of the Canton and Enderbury Islands condominium from 1939–79, the island is now a possession of the Republic of Kiribati.

Enderbury Island. Image courtesy of Image Science and Analysis Laboratory, Johnson Space Center

Flora and fauna[edit]

The island is flat and bare, with elevations between 15 and 22 feet. Vegetation consists of low shrubs, including herbs, bunchgrass, sida and morning-glory vines, together with a few clumps of trees, including coconut palms and kou trees. Unlike other atolls, Enderbury has only a small lagoon; most of the island is land. Bird life is abundant, as is the rat population, according to E.H. Bryan.[1] Feral cats used to exist, but recently died out.[2] Enderbury has been identified as the most important green sea turtle nesting area in the Phoenix Islands group.[3]

Corals reefs on Enderbury (part of the Phoenix Islands Protected Area), represent what a reef might have looked like one thousand years ago. Image courtesy of Dr. Randi Rotjan, New England Aquarium

History[edit]

Enderbury Island was discovered in 1823 by Capt. James J. Coffin from the British whaling ship 'Transit' and named after Samuel Enderby (1756–1829), owner of a London whaling company. The version 'Enderbury' is a misspelling. The first interest in Enderbury came in 1860, with guano mining. The Guano Islands Act of 1856 allowed Americans to claim islands which had guano deposits; Enderbury was one of them. The start was slow, but guano mining in Enderbury reached its peak in 1870, under the Phoenix Guano Company, when 6,000 tons were mined and shipped in 64 days. The Americans left in 1877, and an English guano company took over in the 1880s, though it was not as productive.

Very little else occurred at Enderbury until 1938, when US President Franklin Roosevelt declared Enderbury, along with the nearby island of Kanton, to be under the jurisdiction of the United States Department of the Interior. These islands had been deemed a good strategic point for stopover of PanAm flights to Australia and New Zealand, though Enderbury itself was never used for this. Britain also claimed the islands, and in 1939, a deal was signed for the U.S. and U.K. to share them as the Canton and Enderbury Islands condominium.

Four colonists settled on the island in 1938, to uphold the American claim of ownership, but they were evacuated in 1942 during World War II by USCGC Taney, and all buildings were destroyed to prevent them from being used by the Japanese.

Today, Enderbury is home to many species of seabirds which roost there and is under the sovereignty of the Republic of Kiribati. In 2008, it became, together with the other Phoenix Islands, a part of the Phoenix Islands Protected Area (PIPA), the largest marine protected area in the world. The PIPA's official website recently revealed that Enderbury has recently been invaded by non-indigenous coconut palms from the islands of Manra, Orona and Nikumaroro.[4]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ http://www.janeresture.com/kiribati_phoenix_group/enderbury.htm. Contains photos of the island taken in 1938.
  2. ^ http://www.phoenixislands.org/species.html.
  3. ^ http://www.phoenixislands.org/enderbury.html. Contains color photo of Enderbury's lagoon.
  4. ^ http://www.phoenixislands.org/species.html. Contains a recent color photo of Enderbury.

Sources[edit]

  • Bryan, Edwin H.: American Polynesia : coral islands of the Central Pacific; Honolulu, Hawaii 1941
  • Skaggs, Jimmy M.: The great guano rush : entrepreneurs and American overseas expansion; New York, NY : St. Martin's Pr., 1994 ISBN 0-312-10316-6

Coordinates: 3°08′S 171°05′W / 3.133°S 171.083°W / -3.133; -171.083