Henderson Island (Pitcairn Islands)

Henderson Island (Pitcairn Islands)

Infobox World Heritage Site
WHS = Henderson Island

Caption = |NASA picture of Henderson Island
State Party =
Type = Natural
Criteria = vii, x
ID = 487
Region = Europe and North America
Year = 1988
Session = 12th
Link = http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/487

Henderson Island is an uninhabited uplifted coral island in the south Pacific Ocean, annexed to the Pitcairn Islands colony in 1902. Measuring 6 miles (9.6 km) long and 3.2 miles (5.1 km) wide, Henderson Island has an area of 14.4 square miles (37.3 km²) and is located 120 miles (193 km) northeast of Pitcairn Island at coord|24|22|01|S|128|18|57|W|. Henderson Island was designated a World Heritage Site by the United Nations in 1988 because of its bird life and untouched phosphate reserves.

The island itself is too small and steep for agriculture and has no fresh water. The raised coral platform has 15 m (50 ft) coastal cliffs (mostly undercut) with three beaches on the northern side. It has a maximum elevation of 33 m (108 ft).

All four land bird species are endemic to the island (Henderson Crake, Henderson Fruit Dove, Henderson Lorikeet and Henderson Warbler). There are also fifteen non-endemic sea birds. Other endemic species include nine plants (of the sixty-three species on island), four land snails (of sixteen species), and one butterfly (only species on island).

Although Henderson is virtually uninhabitable, archaeological evidence suggests that it was inhabited by a small Polynesian permanent colony between the twelfth and fifteenth centuries until this group disappeared. The reasons for its disappearance are unknown, but are probably related to the similar disappearance of the Polynesians on Pitcairn Island, on whom the Hendersonians would have depended for many of the basics of life (the Pitcairn Polynesians may in turn have disappeared because of the decline of nearby Mangareva; thus, Henderson was at the end of a chain of small, dependent colonies).On January 29, 1606, Henderson island was discovered by Portuguese sailor Pedro Fernandes de Queiros, who named it San João Baptista. On June 17, 1819 the island was re-discovered by British Capt. Henderson of the British East India Company ship "Hercules", and named Henderson Island.

The crew of the "Essex" landed briefly on the island, staying from December 20, 1820 to December 27, 1820. Three of the crew — Thomas Chappel, Seth Weeks and William Wright — stayed and survived until their subsequent rescue on April 9, 1821 while their companions sailed for South America. The men of the "Essex" believed they had found Ducie Island. In 1957, a man lived the life of a castaway on the island for approximately two months, accompanied by a pet chimpanzee, apparently as a publicity stunt. He was eventually rescued by locals from Pitcairn. [http://www.winthrop.dk/chimp.html]

In the early 1980s, American businessman Arthur M. Ratliff expressed interest in buying and leasing Henderson Island, and establishing a small settlement with an airstrip, cattle ranch, and mansion. The Pitcairn Island Council approved his plans in April 1981 but the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office overrode the decision and vetoed the proposed development, after environmentalist groups had lobbied to protect the natural ecology and environment of the island which was subsequently named a World Heritage site. [http://www.winthrop.dk/hender2.html]

Today, Henderson is rarely visited except by Pitcairners looking for wood.

ee also

* "Essex"


* Jared Diamond, "" (2005), ch. 3.
* Nathaniel Philbrick, , Penguin Books 2001.
*cite book | author=Chase, Owen | title=Narrative of the Most Extraordinary and Distressing Shipwreck of the Whale-Ship Essex | publisher=W. B. Gilley | year=1821 | id= No ISBN New York.
*cite book | author=Nickerson, Thomas | title=The Loss of the Ship "Essex" Sunk by a Whale and the Ordeal of the Crew in Open Boats | publisher=Nantucket Historical Society | year=1984 | id=ISBN 9996662497

External links

* [http://www.winthrop.dk/hender.html The Henderson Island Website]
* [http://whc.unesco.org/pg.cfm?cid=31&id_site=487 Henderson Island - UNESCO]
* [http://www.thesalmons.org/lynn/henderson.html Henderson Island] - Travel Log
* [http://www.britlink.org/henderson.htm Henderson Island] Henderson Island at Britlink.
* [http://www.pacific-expeditions.com Visiting Henderson Island - R/V Bounty Bay]

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