Nihoa

Last updated
Nihoa
Nihoa aerial.jpg
Pacific Ocean laea location map.svg
Red pog.svg
Nihoa
Geography
Location Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument
Coordinates 23°03′38″N161°55′19″W / 23.06056°N 161.92194°W / 23.06056; -161.92194
Archipelago Northwestern Hawaiian Islands
Area0.69 km2 (0.27 sq mi)
Administration
United States
Demographics
DemonymNihoan
Population0
Map showing the location of Nihoa in the Hawaiian island chain Hawaiianislandchain USGS.png
Map showing the location of Nihoa in the Hawaiian island chain

Nihoa ( /nˈh.ə/ ; Hawaiian : Nīhoa [niˈhowə] ), also known as Bird Island or Moku Manu, is the tallest of ten islands and atolls in the uninhabited Northwestern Hawaiian Islands (NWHI). The island is located at the southern end of the NWHI chain, 296 km (160 nmi) southeast of Necker Island. Nihoa is the closest NWHI in proximity to the eight main windward Hawaiian Islands at approximately 240 km (130 nmi) northwest of the island of Kauaʻi. The island has two peaks, 272 m (892 ft) Miller's Peak in the west, and 259 m (850 ft) Tanager Peak in the east. Nihoa's area is about 171 acres (0.69 km2) and is surrounded by a 142,000-acre (57,000 ha) coral reef. Its jagged outline gives the island its name, Nīhoa, which is Hawaiian for "tooth". [1]

Contents

The island is home to 25 species of plants and several animals, making it the most diverse island in the entire NWHI. Endemic birds like the Nihoa finch and Nihoa millerbird, and endemic plants like Pritchardia remota and Schiedea verticillata are found only on Nihoa. Amaranthus brownii was considered the rarest plant on Nihoa and has not been directly observed on the island since 1983, and is now considered to be extinct. The plant communities and rocky outcrops provide nesting and perching areas for 18 species of seabirds, such as red-footed boobies and brown noddies, terns, shearwaters, and petrels. Prehistoric evidence indicates Native Hawaiians lived on or visited the island around AD 1000, but over time the location of Nihoa was mostly forgotten, with only an oral legend preserving its name. Captain James Colnett rediscovered the island in 1788, and Queen Kaʻahumanu visited it in 1822. It was made part of the Kingdom of Hawaii by King Kamehameha IV.

In 1909, Nihoa became part of the Hawaiian Islands Reservation, a federal wildlife refuge established by U.S president Theodore Roosevelt. The Tanager Expedition surveyed the island in 1923, taking a comprehensive biological inventory of its many species. In 1940, it became part of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Wildlife Refuge and in 1988, it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places due to its culturally significant archaeological sites. In 2006, it became part of the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. Efforts are underway to ensure that endangered plant species are propagated beyond their limited range and represented in ex situ collections. Persons intending to visit Nihoa for cultural and scientific research purposes require a USFWS-issued special-use permit to land on the island so as to reduce the risk of introducing alien species to Nihoa's already fragile ecosystem.

Geology

Tanager Peak, looking east from Miller Peak Nihoa cliff.jpg
Tanager Peak, looking east from Miller Peak

Nihoa is part of the Hawaiian – Emperor seamount chain of volcanic islands, atolls, and seamounts starting from the island of Hawaiʻi in the southeast to the Aleutian Islands in the northwest. It is the youngest of ten islands in the uninhabited Northwestern Hawaiian Islands (NWHI), having formed 7.2 million years ago; the oldest, Kure Atoll, formed 30 million years ago. Over the millennia, Nihoa has experienced significant erosion; along with Necker, French Frigate Shoals, and Gardner Pinnacles, Nihoa is one of only four islands in the NWHI that still has an exposed basalt rock substrate. [2] Six valleys slant down from north to south, meeting at the south side of the island: West Valley, West Palm Valley, Miller Valley, Middle Valley, East Palm Valley, and East Valley.

Among features on Nihoa are Dog's Head Peak (358 ft or 109 m), named for its likeness, and Pinnacle Peak (626 ft or 191 m), a volcanic dike created when less resilient rock was eroded away and harder rock was open to the elements. The only flat area on the island is Albatross Plateau, just below Miller's Peak. The Devil's Slide is a narrow cleft descending 700 feet (210 m) irrespective of the surrounding elevation. Extending northward from Albatross Plateau, it ends at the vertical cliffs with a 190-foot (60 m) drop straight down to the ocean below. In this chasm, rare ferns grow, along with several endemic species, including a giant cricket. [3]

Ecology

Nihoa's inaccessibility and lack of major guano deposits made the island unattractive to humans, helping to preserve its endemic species from extinction. Because of Nihoa's small size, most of its endemic organisms are endangered, as one single disaster such as an island-wide fire or an introduction of invasive species could wipe out the whole population. One such invasive species is the gray bird grasshopper, Schistocerca nitens; from the period between 1999 and 2003, grasshoppers devastated much of the vegetation on the island and posed a real threat to the continued health of plants on Nihoa. [4] The following year, the numbers decreased and the vegetation became lush again. The grasshoppers probably came to Nihoa by way of wind from Kauai.

Unique species include:

Prehistoric human habitation

Nihoa Island Archeological District
Nihoa, Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, USA-2012.jpg
View of Nihoa Island
USA Hawaii island chain location map.svg
Red pog.svg
Nearest city Kauai, Hawaii
NRHP reference No. 88000640 [5]
Added to NRHPJune 13, 1988

Nihoa was well known to the early Hawaiians. Archaeological expeditions found extensive prehistoric agricultural terraces and house sites. [6] At least one site has been dated to around the 1st millennium AD, sometime between 867–1037. [7] There is some doubt as to the number of people that lived on Nihoa, because while the large terraces suggest a considerable number, there is scant fresh water to be found. Archaeologists Kenneth Emory [8] and Paul Cleghorn [9] estimate that water could support as many as 100 people, although if the island were previously forested, this would have increased fresh water supplies relative to its current state. It is also thought that Nihoa may have been used only for religious purposes, which would have meant that ancient Hawaiians only visited here occasionally and did not stay for long. Because of the island's importance, the island was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1988, and subsequently became part of Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument in June 2006.

Nihoa, along with Necker Island to the northwest, is among the most northern, isolated, smallest and driest of the Hawaiian islands, and receives the lowest dust and tephra input. All of these features were found to strongly predict deforestation among the Pacific Islands. The collapse of the Nihoa population may stem from this, similar to how Easter Island became inclement to its human civilization following deforestation and depletion of seabirds and other natural resources. [10]

Early exploration

The first Westerner to discover Nihoa was Captain James Colnett of the Prince of Wales, on March 21, 1788. Due to Colnett's lengthy absence from England, including his imprisonment by the Spanish for his part in the Nootka Sound Incident, the discovery was once widely accredited to Captain William Douglas of the Iphigenia, who sighted Nihoa almost a year later. [11]

By the end of the 18th century, Nihoa had been forgotten by most Hawaiians. In 1822, Queen Kaʻahumanu and her husband King Kaumualiʻi traveled with Captain William Sumner to find Nihoa, as her generation had only known the island through songs and myths. [6] Later, King Kamehameha IV sailed there to officially annex the island as part of the Kingdom of Hawaiʻi. Finally, in 1885, Princess Liliuokalani made a pilgrimage to Nihoa with her escorts, but their luncheon was cut short when one of the party ignited a wildfire by accident. The group tried to flee the island, but the rising tides made it difficult and several boats were flooded, destroying some of the photographs taken. [12]

See also

Notes

  1. Rauzon 2001 , p. 8. Captain William Douglas, the second Western explorer to find Nihoa, describes the island as "[bearing] the form of a saddle, high at each end, and low in the middle. To the south, it is covered with verdure; but on the north, west, and east sides it is a barren rock, perpendicularly steep..."
  2. Department of Forestry and Wildlife (2005). "Chapter 6: Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. Hawaii's Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy (CWCS)" (PDF). Hawai'i Department of Land and Natural Resources. Archived from the original (PDF) on March 22, 2012.
  3. Rauzon 2001.
  4. Liittschwager & Middleton 2005 , p. 94
  5. "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places . National Park Service. January 23, 2007.
  6. 1 2 Tava & Keale 1998 , pp. 102–103.
  7. Hunt, Terry L.; Holsen, Robert M. (1991). "An Early Radiocarbon Chronology for the Hawaiian Islands: A Preliminary Analysis". Asian Perspectives. 30 (1): 157. hdl:10125/19261. ISSN   0066-8435.
  8. Emory, Kenneth P. (2003) [1928]. Archaeology of Nihoa and Necker Islands. Bishop Museum Bulletin. 53. Bishop Museum Press.
  9. Cleghorn, Paul L. (1988). "The settlement and abandonment of two Hawaiian outposts: Nihoa and Necker islands". Bishop Museum Occasional Papers. Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum. 28: 35–49.
  10. Rolett, B.; Diamond, J. (2004). "Environmental predictors of pre-European deforestation on Pacific islands". Nature. 431 (7007): 443–446. Bibcode:2004Natur.431..443R. doi:10.1038/nature02801. PMID   15386010.
  11. Rauzon 2001 , p. 8.
  12. Rauzon 2001 , p. 12.

Related Research Articles

Hawaiian Islands An archipelago in the North Pacific Ocean, currently administered by the US state of Hawaii

The Hawaiian Islands are an archipelago of eight major islands, several atolls, numerous smaller islets, and seamounts in the North Pacific Ocean, extending some 1,500 miles from the island of Hawaiʻi in the south to northernmost Kure Atoll. Formerly the group was known to Europeans and Americans as the Sandwich Islands, a name that James Cook chose in honor of the then First Lord of the Admiralty John Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich. The contemporary name is derived from the name of the largest island, Hawaii Island.

Kure Atoll An atoll in the Pacific Ocean in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands

Kure Atoll or Ocean Island is an atoll in the Pacific Ocean 48 nautical miles WNW of Midway Atoll in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands at 28°25′N178°20′W. The only land of significant size is called Green Island and is a habitat for hundreds of thousands of seabirds. A short, unused and unmaintained runway and a portion of one building, both from a former United States Coast Guard LORAN station, are located on the island. Politically, it is part of Hawaii, although separated from the rest of the state by Midway, which is a separate unorganized territory. Green Island, in addition to being the nesting grounds of tens of thousands of seabirds, has recorded several vagrant terrestrial birds including snow bunting, eyebrowed thrush, brambling, olive-backed pipit, black kite, Steller's sea eagle and Chinese sparrowhawk. It is currently managed as a Wildlife Bird Sanctuary by the State of Hawaii's Department of Land and Natural Resource--Division of Forestry and Wildlife as one of the co-trustees of Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument with support from Kure Atoll Conservancy.

Gardner Pinnacles Two barren rock outcrops surrounded by a reef in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands

The Gardner Pinnacles are two barren rock outcrops surrounded by a reef and located in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands at 24°59′56″N167°59′58″W.

Necker Island (Hawaii) A small island in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands

Necker Island is a small island in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. It is located at 23°34′30″N164°42′01″W in the Pacific Ocean, 155 miles northwest of Nihoa and 8 miles north of the Tropic of Cancer. It contains important prehistoric archaeological sites of the Hawaiian culture and is part of the Hawaiian Islands National Wildlife Refuge within the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands National Monument.

Northwestern Hawaiian Islands small islands and atolls in the Hawaiian island chain

The Northwestern Hawaiian Islands or Leeward Islands are the small islands and atolls in the Hawaiian island chain located northwest of the islands of Kauai and Niihau. Politically, they are all part of Honolulu County in the U.S. state of Hawaii, except Midway Atoll, which is a territory distinct from Hawaii and grouped as one of the United States Minor Outlying Islands. The United States Census Bureau defines this area, except Midway, as Census Tract 114.98 of Honolulu County. Its total land area is 3.1075 square miles (8.048 km2). All the islands except Nihoa are north of the Tropic of Cancer, making them the only islands in Hawaii that lie outside the tropics.

Pearl and Hermes Atoll Part of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands

The Pearl and Hermes Atoll is part of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, a group of small islands and atolls that form the farthest northwest portion of the Hawaiian island chain. The atoll consists of a variable number of flat and sandy islets, typically between five and seven. More were noted in historical sources but have since been lost to erosion and rising sea levels.

Laysan One of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands

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 12 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.

<i>Pritchardia remota</i> species of plant

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.

<i>Schiedea verticillata</i> species of plant

Schiedea verticillata, known as the Devils Slide schiedea or Nihoa carnation, is an endangered species of plant in the family Caryophyllaceae, endemic to the island of Nihoa in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, where it was discovered in 1923 by the Tanager Expedition. It has been listed as endangered since 1996.

Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument national monument in the United States

The Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument is a World Heritage listed U.S. National Monument encompassing 583,000 square miles (1,510,000 km2) of ocean waters, including ten islands and atolls of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. Created in June 2006 with 140,000 square miles (360,000 km2), it was expanded in August 2016 by moving its border to the limit of the exclusive economic zone, making it one of the world's largest protected areas. It is internationally known for its cultural and natural values as follows:

"The area has deep cosmological and traditional significance for living Native Hawaiian culture, as an ancestral environment, as an embodiment of the Hawaiian concept of kinship between people and the natural world, and as the place where it is believed that life originates and to where the spirits return after death. On two of the islands, Nihoa and Makumanamana, there are archaeological remains relating to pre-European settlement and use. Much of the monument is made up of pelagic and deepwater habitats, with notable features such as seamounts and submerged banks, extensive coral reefs and lagoons."

<i>Amaranthus brownii</i> species of plant

Amaranthus brownii was an annual herb in the family Amaranthaceae. The plant was found only on the small island of Nihoa in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, growing on rocky outcrops at altitudes of 120–215 m (394–705 ft). It was one of nine species of Amaranthus in the Hawaiian Islands, but was the only endemic Hawaiian species of the genus. It was first discovered during the Tanager Expedition in 1923 by botanist Edward Leonard Caum. A. brownii differed from other Hawaiian species of Amaranthus with its spineless leaf axils, linear leaves, and indehiscent fruits.

The Nihoa conehead katydid is a species of katydid which is endemic to the Hawaiian island of Nihoa. It is one of the ten species in the genus Banza, all of them native to Hawaii, although it is the sister species to the remaining nine, and may belong in a separate genus. It gets its food mostly from plant leaves, but because of the low population, it does not do significant damage. Unlike Main Islands' species, whose males leap on the females before mating, the Nihoa variants sing to them. It is listed as a vulnerable species on the IUCN Red List, and as a "species of concern" under the Endangered Species Act.

<i>Sesbania tomentosa</i> species of plant

Sesbania tomentosa, commonly known as Oahu riverhemp and ʻŌhai, is an endangered species of flowering plant in the pea family, Fabaceae, that is endemic to the main Hawaiian Islands as well as Nihoa and Necker Island. It inhabits low shrublands and, rarely, dry forests, at elevations from sea level to 2,500 ft (760 m). Associated native plant species include akiʻaki, ilima, naupaka kahakai, and pili. Off-road vehicles, wildfires, grazing, and alien species competition have destroyed their habitat on the main islands, but they are still quite common on Nihoa and Necker. At least 2000 specimens grow on Nihoa, while there are far less on Necker.

<i>Thaumatogryllus conanti</i> species of insect

Thaumatogryllus conanti is a nocturnal species of cricket endemic to the island of Nihoa, where it is found in Devil's Slide, a narrow ravine. It is named after Dr. Sheila Conant, the scientist who discovered it in the 1980s. Including T. conanti, there are only four known species in the genus Thaumatogryllus, which is endemic to Hawaii. Another species is found only in lava tubes on the Island of Hawaii.

Tanager Expedition a series of five biological surveys of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands

The TanagerExpedition was a series of five biological surveys of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands conducted in partnership between the Bureau of Biological Survey and the Bishop Museum, with the assistance of the U.S. Navy. Four expeditions occurred from April to August 1923, and a fifth in July 1924. Led by Lieutenant Commander Samuel Wilder King on the minesweeper USS Tanager (AM-5), and Alexander Wetmore directing the team of scientists, the expedition studied the plant animal life, and geology of the central Pacific islands. Noted members of the team include archaeologist Kenneth Emory and herpetologist Chapman Grant.

Maximilian Joseph August Schlemmer, known as the "King of Laysan," was a German immigrant to the United States who settled in Hawaii and spent fifteen years from 1894 to 1915 living with his family on the Hawaiian island of Laysan as superintendent of a guano mining operation. Schlemmer was interested in the birdlife of the island and made several studies which provide information on historic bird populations. However, Schlemmer and his family unwittingly introduced rabbits to Laysan, leading to the extinction of the Laysan rail and Laysan millerbird and permanently changed the island's ecology in the early 20th century. A biography of Schlemmer was written by his grandson, Tom Unger.

Kenneth Emory American anthropologist who played a key role in shaping modern anthropology in Oceania

Kenneth Pike Emory was an American anthropologist who played a key role in shaping modern anthropology in Oceania. In the tradition of A. L. Kroeber and other pioneering anthropologists who trained him, Emory's works span all four major fields of anthropology: archaeology, physical anthropology, ethnography, and linguistics. With fellow scientists Gerrit P. Wilder, Honolulu botanist, and Mrs. Wilder, historian; Dr. Armstrong Sperry and Dr. Stanley Ball, he was part of the Bishop Museum scientific research party who explored the South Pacific on the schooner Kaimiloa.

Helicoverpa hawaiiensis, the Hawaiian bud moth, is a species of moth of the family Noctuidae. It was first described by Altus Lacy Quaintance and Charles Thomas Brues in 1905. It is endemic to Hawaii, where it is known from Kauai, Oahu, Molokai, Maui, Lanai, Hawaii, Nihoa and Necker Island.

References

Further reading

Coordinates: 23°03′38″N161°55′19″W / 23.06056°N 161.92194°W / 23.06056; -161.92194