|Nickname: Bunker Island|
NASA satphoto of Jarvis Island; note the submerged reef beyond the eastern end.
|Etymology||Edward, Thomas and William Jarvis|
|Location||South Pacific Ocean|
|Area||4.5 km2 (1.7 sq mi)|
|Length||3.26 km (2.026 mi)|
|Width||2.22 km (1.379 mi)|
|Coastline||8.54 km (5.307 mi)|
|Highest elevation||7 m (23 ft)|
Jarvis Island ( // ; formerly known as Bunker Island or Bunker's Shoal) is an uninhabited 1 3⁄4-square-mile (4.5 km2) coral island located in the South Pacific Ocean, about halfway between Hawaii and the Cook Islands. It is an unincorporated, unorganized territory of the United States, administered by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service of the United States Department of the Interior as part of the National Wildlife Refuge system. Unlike most coral atolls, the lagoon on Jarvis is wholly dry.
Jarvis is one of the Line Islands and for statistical purposes is also grouped as one of the United States Minor Outlying Islands. Jarvis Island is the largest of three U.S. equatorial possessions, along with Baker Island and Howland Island.
While a few offshore anchorage spots are marked on maps, Jarvis island has no ports or harbors, and swift currents are a hazard. There is a boat landing area in the middle of the western shoreline near a crumbling day beacon, and another near the southwest corner of the island.The center of Jarvis island is a dried lagoon where deep guano deposits accumulated, which were mined for about 20 years during the nineteenth century. The island has a tropical desert climate, with high daytime temperatures, constant wind, and strong sun. Nights, however, are quite cool. The ground is mostly sandy and reaches 23 feet (7 meters) at its highest point. Because of the island's distance from other large landmasses, the Jarvis Island high point is the 36th most isolated peak in the world. The low-lying coral island has long been noted as hard to sight from small ships and is surrounded by a narrow fringing reef.
Jarvis Island is one of two United States territories that are in the southern hemisphere (the other is American Samoa). Located only 25 miles (40 km) south of the equator, Jarvis has no known natural freshwater lens and scant rainfall. This creates a very bleak, flat landscape without any plants larger than shrubs. There is no evidence that the island has ever supported a self-sustaining human population. Its sparse bunch grass, prostrate vines and low-growing shrubs are primarily a nesting, roosting, and foraging habitat for seabirds, shorebirds, and marine wildlife.
Jarvis Island was once one of the largest breeding colonies in the tropical ocean, but guano mining and the introduction of rodents have ruined much of the island's native wildlife. Just eight breeding species were recorded in 1982, compared to thirteen in 1996, and fourteen species in 2004. The Polynesian storm petrel had made its return after over 40 years absent from Jarvis Island, and the number of Brown noddies multiplied from just a few birds in 1982 to nearly 10,000. Just twelve Gray-backed terns were recorded in 1982, but by 2004, over 200 nests were found on the island.
Jarvis Island was submerged underwater during the latest interglacial period, roughly 125,000 years ago, when sea levels were 5–10 meters higher than today. As the sea level declined, the horseshoe-shaped lagoon was formed in the center of Jarvis Island.
Jarvis Island is located in the Samoa Time Zone (UTC -11:00), the same time zone as American Samoa, Kingman Reef, Midway Atoll and Palmyra Atoll.
The island's first known sighting by Europeans was on August 21, 1821, by the British ship Eliza Francis (or Eliza Frances) owned by Edward, Thomas and William Jarvisand commanded by Captain Brown. The island was visited by whaling vessels till the 1870s.
The US Exploring Expedition surveyed the island in 1841.In March 1857 the island was claimed for the United States under the Guano Islands Act and formally annexed on February 27, 1858.
The American Guano Company, which was incorporated in 1857, established claims in respect of Baker Island and Jarvis Island which was recognized under the U.S. Guano Islands Act of 1856.Beginning in 1858, several support structures were built on Jarvis Island, along with a two-story, eight-room "superintendent's house" featuring an observation cupola and wide verandahs. Tram tracks were laid down for bringing mined guano to the western shore. One of the first loads was taken by Samuel Gardner Wilder. For the following twenty-one years, Jarvis was commercially mined for guano, sent to the United States as fertilizer, but the island was abruptly abandoned in 1879, leaving behind about a dozen buildings and 8,000 tonnes of mined guano.
New Zealand entrepreneurs, including photographer Henry Winkelmann, then made unsuccessful attempts to continue guano extraction on Jarvis, and the two-story house was sporadically inhabited during the early 1880s. Squire Flockton was left alone on the island as caretaker for several months and committed suicide there in 1883, apparently from gin-fueled despair.His wooden grave marker was a carved plank which could be seen in the island's tiny four-grave cemetery for decades.
John T. Arundel & Co. resumed mining guano from 1886 to 1899.The United Kingdom annexed the island on June 3, 1889. Phosphate and copra entrepreneur John T. Arundel visited the island in 1909 on maiden voyage of the S.S. Ocean Queen and near the beach landing on the western shore members of the crew built a pyramidal day beacon made from slats of wood, which was painted white. The beacon was standing in 1935, and remained until at least 1942.
On August 30, 1913, the barquentine Amaranth (C. W. Nielson, captain) was carrying a cargo of coal from Newcastle, New South Wales, to San Francisco when it wrecked on Jarvis' southern shore. Ruins of ten wooden guano-mining buildings, the two-story house among them, could still be seen by the Amaranth crew, who left Jarvis aboard two lifeboats. One reached Pago Pago, American Samoa, and the other made Apia in Western Samoa. The ship's scattered remains were noted and scavenged for many years, and rounded fragments of coal from the Amaranth's hold were still being found on the south beach in the late 1930s.
Jarvis Island was reclaimed by the United States government and colonized from March 26, 1935, onwards, under the American Equatorial Islands Colonization Project (see also Howland Island and Baker Island). President Franklin D. Roosevelt assigned administration of the island to the U.S. Department of the Interior on May 13, 1936.Starting out as a cluster of large, open tents pitched next to the still-standing white wooden day beacon, the Millersville settlement on the island's western shore was named after a bureaucrat with the United States Department of Air Commerce. The settlement grew into a group of shacks built mostly with wreckage from the Amaranth (lumber from which was also used by the young Hawaiian colonists to build surfboards), but later, stone and wood dwellings were built and equipped with refrigeration, radio equipment, and a weather station. A crude aircraft landing area was cleared on the northeast side of the island, and a T-shaped marker which was intended to be seen from the air was made from gathered stones, but no airplane is known to have ever landed there.
At the beginning of World War II, an Imperial Japanese Navy submarine surfaced off the west coast of the island. Believing that it was a U.S. Navy submarine which had come to fetch them, the four young colonists rushed down the steep western beach in front of Millersville towards the shore. The submarine answered their waves with fire from its deck gun, but no one was hurt in the attack. On February 7, 1942, the USCGC Taney evacuated the colonists, then shelled and burned the dwellings. The roughly cleared landing area on the island's northeast end was later shelled by the Japanese, leaving crater holes.
Jarvis was visited by scientists during the International Geophysical Year from July 1957 until November 1958. In January 1958 all scattered building ruins from both the nineteenth century guano diggings and the 1935–1942 colonization attempt were swept away without a trace by a severe storm which lasted several days and was witnessed by the scientists. When the IGY research project ended the island was abandoned again.By the early 1960s a few sheds, a century of accumulated trash, the scientists' house from the late 1950s and a solid, short lighthouse-like day beacon built two decades before were the only signs of human habitation on Jarvis.
On June 27, 1974, Secretary of the Interior Rogers Morton created Jarvis Island National Wildlife Refuge which was expanded in 2009 to add submerged lands within 12 nautical miles (22 km) of the island. The refuge now includes 1,273 acres (5.15 km2) of land and 428,580 acres (1,734.4 km2) of water. Along with six other islands, the island was administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as part of the Pacific Remote Islands National Wildlife Refuge Complex. In January 2009, that entity was upgraded to the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument by President George W. Bush.
A feral cat population, descendants of cats likely brought by colonists in the 1930s, wrought disruption to the island's wildlife and vegetation. These cats were removed through efforts which began in the mid-1960s and lasted until 1990 when they were completely eradicated.Nineteenth-century tram track remains can be seen in the dried lagoon bed at the island's center and the late 1930s-era lighthouse-shaped day beacon still stands on the western shore at the site of Millersville.
Public entry to anyone, including U.S. citizens, on Jarvis Island requires a special-use permit and is generally restricted to scientists and educators. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the United States Coast Guard periodically visit Jarvis.
Jarvis Island Light in 2003
|Year first constructed||1935|
|Tower shape||conical frustum tower, no lantern|
|Markings / pattern||white and red horizontal bands (originally)|
|Tower height||5 meters (16 ft)|
There is no airport on the island, nor does the island contain any large terminal or port. There is a day beacon near the middle of the west coast. Some offshore anchorage is available.
As a U.S. territory, the defense of Jarvis Island is the responsibility of the United States. All laws of the United States are applicable on the island.
Baker Island is an uninhabited atoll located just north of the equator in the central Pacific Ocean about 3,090 km (1,920 mi) southwest of Honolulu. The island lies almost halfway between Hawaii and Australia. Its nearest neighbor is Howland Island, 42 mi (68 km) to the north-northwest; both have been claimed as territories of the United States since 1857, though the United Kingdom considered them part of the British Empire between 1897 and 1936.
Howland Island is an uninhabited coral island located just north of the equator in the central Pacific Ocean, about 1,700 nautical miles (3,100 km) southwest of Honolulu. The island lies almost halfway between Hawaii and Australia and is an unincorporated, unorganized territory of the United States. Together with Baker Island it forms part of the Phoenix Islands. For statistical purposes, Howland is grouped as one of the United States Minor Outlying Islands. The island has an elongated banana-shape on a north–south axis, 1.40 by 0.55 nautical miles, and covers 2.6 square kilometres.
Johnston Atoll, also known as Kalama Atoll to Native Hawaiians, is an unincorporated territory of the United States currently administered by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service. Johnston Atoll is a National Wildlife Refuge and is closed to public entry. Limited access for management needs is only by Letter of Authorization from the U.S. Air Force and Special Use Permit from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Kingman Reef is a largely submerged, uninhabited triangular-shaped reef, 9.0 nautical miles east-west and 4.5 nmi (8 km) north-south, located in the North Pacific Ocean, roughly halfway between the Hawaiian Islands and American Samoa. It is the northernmost of the Northern Line Islands and lies 36 nautical miles (67 km) northwest of the next closest island, and 930 nautical miles (1,720 km) south of Honolulu.
Midway Atoll is a 2.4-square-mile (6.2 km2) atoll in the North Pacific Ocean at. Midway is roughly equidistant between North America and Asia. Midway Atoll is an unorganized, unincorporated territory of the United States. Midway continues to be the only island in the Hawaiian archipelago that is not part of the state of Hawaii. Unlike the other Hawaiian islands, Midway observes Samoa Time, which is one hour behind the time in the state of Hawaii. For statistical purposes, Midway is grouped as one of the United States Minor Outlying Islands. The Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge, encompassing 590,991.50 acres (239,165.77 ha) of land and water in the surrounding area, is administered by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS). The refuge and most of its surrounding area are part of the larger Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument.
Palmyra Atoll is one of the Northern Line Islands, located almost due south of the Hawaiian Islands, roughly one-third of the way between Hawaii and American Samoa. The nearest continent is almost 3,355 miles to the northeast. The atoll is 4.6 sq mi (12 km2), and it is located in the equatorial Northern Pacific Ocean. Its 9 mi (14 km) of coastline has one anchorage known as West Lagoon.
The United States Minor Outlying Islands are a statistical designation defined by the International Organization for Standardization's ISO 3166-1 code. The entry code is ISO 3166-2:UM. The minor outlying islands and groups of islands consist of eight United States insular areas in the Pacific Ocean and one in the Caribbean Sea.
An insular area of the United States is a U.S. territory that is not one of the 50 states and is not a Federal district. Article IV, Section 3, Clause 2 of the United States Constitution grants to the United States Congress the responsibility of overseeing these territories. There are 14 U.S. Territories as of 2018: three in the Caribbean Sea and 11 in the Pacific Ocean. These territories are classified by whether they are incorporated and whether they have an organized territorial government established by the U.S. Congress through an organic act. All territories but one are unincorporated, and all but four are considered to be unorganized. Five U.S. territories have a permanent, nonmilitary population. Each of them has a civilian government, a constitution, and enjoys some degree of local political autonomy.
Territories of the United States are sub-national administrative divisions overseen by the United States government. The various U.S. territories differ from the U.S. states and Native American tribes in that they are not sovereign entities. They are classified by incorporation and whether they have an "organized" government through an organic act passed by Congress. All U.S. territories are part of the United States, but the unincorporated territories are not considered to be integral parts of the United States, and the Constitution of the United States applies only partially in those territories.
The French Frigate Shoals is the largest atoll in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. Its name commemorates French explorer Jean-François de La Pérouse, who nearly lost two frigates when attempting to navigate the shoals. It consists of a 20-mile (32 km) long crescent-shaped reef, twelve sandbars, and the 120-foot (37 m) high La Perouse Pinnacle, the only remnant of its volcanic origins. The total land area of the islets is 61.508 acres (24.891 ha). Total coral reef area of the shoals is over 232,000 acres (94,000 ha). Tern Island, with an area of 26.014 acres (10.527 ha), has a landing strip and permanent habitations for a small number of people. It is maintained as a field station in the Hawaiian Islands National Wildlife Refuge by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service. The French Frigate Shoals are about 487 nautical miles northwest of Honolulu.
Laysan, located 808 nautical miles northwest of Honolulu at N25° 42' 14" W171° 44' 04", is one of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. It comprises one land mass of 1,016 acres (4.11 km2), about 1 by 1 1⁄2 miles in size. It is an atoll of sorts, although the land completely surrounds a shallow central lake some 8 feet (2.4 m) above sea level that has a salinity approximately three times greater than the ocean. Laysan's Hawaiian name of Kauō means egg.
Rose Atoll, sometimes called Rose Island or Motu O Manu by people of the nearby Manu'a Islands, is an oceanic atoll within the U.S. territory of American Samoa. An uninhabited wildlife refuge, it is the southernmost point belonging to the United States. The land area is 0.214 km2. The total area of the atoll, including lagoon and reef flat amounts to 5 km2. Just west of the northernmost point is a channel into the lagoon, about 40 m wide. There are two islets on the northeastern rim of the reef, larger Rose Island in the east and the non-vegetated Sand Island in the north.
Birnie Island is a small, uninhabited coral island, 20 hectares in area, part of the Phoenix Island group, that is part of the Republic of Kiribati. It is located about 100 km SE of Kanton Island and 90 km WNW of Rawaki Island, formerly known as Phoenix Island. It lies at. Birnie island measures only 1.2 km long and 0.5 km wide. There is no anchorage, but landing can be made on the lee beach.
Pritchardia remota, the Nihoa pritchardia, Nihoa fan palm, or Loulu, is a species of palm endemic on the island of Nihoa, Hawaiʻi, and later transplanted to the island of Laysan. It is a smaller tree than most other species of Pritchardia, typically reaching only 4–5 metres (13–16 ft) tall and with a trunk diameter of 15 centimetres (5.9 in). It is the only type of tree on the island and used to be abundant. In 1885 a wildfire ravaged the island, destroying most of the palms. Only about 700 of these trees remain, making the species endangered but numbers are slowly increasing. The palm is being cultivated in botanical gardens.
The Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument is a group of unorganized, mostly unincorporated United States Pacific Island territories managed by the Fish and Wildlife Service of the United States Department of the Interior and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration of the United States Department of Commerce. These remote refuges are "the most widespread collection of marine- and terrestrial-life protected areas on the planet under a single country's jurisdiction". They protect many endemic species including corals, fish, shellfish, marine mammals, seabirds, water birds, land birds, insects, and vegetation not found elsewhere.
Howland and Baker Islands are two uninhabited U.S. atolls in the Equatorial Pacific that are located close to one another. Both islands are wildlife refuges, the larger of which is Howland Island. The pair of islands may also be referred to as Baker and Howland Islands. They are both part of the larger political territory of the United States Minor Outlying Islands and they are also both part of the larger geographic grouping of the Phoenix Islands. Each is a National Wildlife Refuge managed by a division of Interior, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. On January 6, 2009, President George Bush, in creating the monument, added both islands to the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument.
Amaranth was a four-masted barquentine built by Matthew Turner of Benicia, California in 1901. Amaranth sailed in the China trade between Puget Sound and Shanghai. She was wrecked on a guano island in the South Pacific in 1913 while carrying a load of coal.
Under a Jarvis Moon is a 2010 documentary film about the young men, mostly of Hawaiian origin, sent in the 1930s and 1940s to colonize the Line Island of Jarvis and the Phoenix Islands of Howland and Baker. Directed by Noelle Kahanu and Heather Giugni, the film is related to a 2002 Bishop Museum exhibition "Hui Panala'au: Hawaiian Colonists, American Citizens." In 2010 Hawaii International Film Festival, the film scored #1 in Best Documentary nomination.
The American Equatorial Islands Colonization Project was a plan initiated in 1935 by the U.S. Department of Commerce to place citizens of the United States on uninhabited Howland, Baker and Jarvis islands in the central Pacific Ocean so that weather stations and landing fields could be built for military and commercial use on air routes between Australia and California. Additionally, the U.S. government wanted to claim these remote islands to provide a check on eastern territorial expansion by the Empire of Japan. The colonists, who became known as Hui Panala'au, were primarily young native Hawaiian men and other male students recruited from schools in Hawaii. In 1937, the project was expanded to include Canton and Enderbury in the Phoenix Islands. The project ended in early 1942 when the colonists were rescued from the islands at the start of the War in the Pacific.