After five days of transit from Pago Pago, we’ve finally arrived at Jarvis Island, the sixth island in the Line Islands chain. This puts us once again close to the equator, about 1,000 miles from American Samoa, 1,200 miles from Honolulu, and 400 miles from our next stop, Palmyra Atoll. For some of us on board, this is a return trip to this remote island chain. For others, this will be their first expedition to the Line Islands. Regardless of how many times we’ve been here, how many dives we’ve already done, how many fish or corals we’ve counted, or how many oceanographic instruments we’ve deployed or retrieved, all of us are looking forward with great anticipation to getting in the water and conducting research at Jarvis Island.
|The coral reef ecosystem at |
Though Jarvis is relatively free from human exploitation, like Howland, Baker, Palmyra and Kingman, Jarvis was claimed for the United States under the Guano Islands Act of 1856. Baker, Howland, and Jarvis Islands were also claimed by the United Kingdom as British Overseas Territories from 1886 to 1934, and guano mining was conducted by both British and American companies through the end of the nineteenth century, after which guano deposits were largely depleted. As at Howland and Baker, a small colony of Kamehameha School graduates was established in 1935, which became known as Hui Panala'au (Society of Colonists). These colonists occupied these islands continually, in three-month shifts of four men per island, in an attempt to help the United States assert territorial jurisdiction over the islands, a jurisdiction crucial to air supremacy in the Pacific. Water and bulk food were supplied from Hawaii. During the period between 1935 and 1942 era; at least 26 trips were made to Jarvis Island by various United States Coast Guard (USCG) cutters. Jarvis Island was evacuated at the beginning of World War II and was unoccupied during the remainder of the war.
|A Green Sea Turtle drifts gracefully by.|