Ducie Island

Travel Guide Oceania Polynesia Pitcairn Islands Ducie Island

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Introduction

Ducie Island is an uninhabited atoll in the Pitcairn Islands. It lies 535 kilometres east of Pitcairn Island, and 354 kilometres east of Henderson Island, and has a total area of 1.5 square miles, which includes the lagoon. It is about 2.5 kilometres long, measured northeast to southwest, and about 1.5 kilometres wide. The island is composed of four islets: Acadia, Pandora, Westward and Edwards.

Despite its sparse vegetation, the atoll is known as the breeding ground of a number of bird species. More than 90% of the world population of Murphy's petrel nests on Ducie, while pairs of red-tailed tropicbirds and fairy terns make around 1% of the world population for each species.

Ducie was first discovered in 1606 by Pedro Fernandes de Queirós, who named it Luna Puesta, and rediscovered by Edward Edwards, captain of HMS Pandora, who was sent in 1790 to capture the mutineers of HMS Bounty. He named the island Ducie in honour of Francis Reynolds-Moreton, 3rd Baron Ducie. In 1867 it was claimed by the United States under the Guano Islands Act, but the United Kingdom annexed it on 19 December 1902 as part of the Pitcairn Islands. Due to its inaccessibility and the distance from Pitcairn Island, Ducie is rarely visited today.

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Geography

Ducie lies 470 kilometres east of Pitcairn Island and is claimed by some to be the southernmost atoll in the world at 24 degrees south latitude. However, Middleton Reef is at 29 degrees south latitude, so the assertion on behalf of Ducie Island is doubtful. Ducie Island's land area is 1 km2and its maximum elevation, occurring on the Westward islet, is 4.6 metres.

Ducie is located 1,000 kilometres west of the edge of the Easter Plate. It was formed approximately 8 million years ago, after Oeno Island was formed by a hotspot that later caused a magma leak generated in the Oeno lineation. The leak spread over fracture zone FZ2, which was formed by the third movement of the Pacific Plate. The atoll is part of the Oeno-Henderson-Ducie-Crough seamount, speculated to be part of the southern Tuamotus.

The atoll consists of four islets: Acadia, Pandora, Westward and Edwards. The last three of these can be accessed on foot from Acadia at low tide. The islets were named by Harald Rehder and John Randall, who visited the atoll during an expedition by the Smithsonian Institution in 1975.

The atoll has a central lagoon, accessible by boat only by way of a channel 100 metres wide located in the southwest, between Pandora and Westward Islets. It has a maximum depth of 16 metres and its bottom consists of sand and coral. Whirlpools in the lagoon are common, caused by tunnels that drain the water from the lagoon into the ocean.

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This is version 1. Last edited at 10:00 on Mar 17, 17 by Utrecht. 1 article links to this page.

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