Coral Reefs

Page 91

The "Astrolabe" sounded with ninety fathoms in several places about a mile from the reefs, and found no bottom. Although the depth within the reef is not laid down, it is evident from several expressions, that Captain D'Urville believes that ships could anchor within, if passages existed through the outer barriers. The Chevallier Dillon informs me that this is the case: hence I have coloured this group blue. In the S.E. part lies BATOA, or TURTLE Island of Cook ("Second Voyage," volume ii., page 23, and chart, 4to edition) surrounded by a coral-reef, "which in some places extends two miles from the shore;" within the reef the water appears to be deep, and outside it is unfathomable; coloured pale blue. At the distance of a few miles, Captain Cook (Ibid., page 24) found a circular coral-reef, four or five leagues in circuit, with deep water within; "in short, the bank wants only a few little islets to make it exactly like one of the half-drowned isles so often mentioned,"--namely, atolls. South of Batoa, lies the high island of ONO, which appears in Bellinghausen's "Atlas" to be encircled; as do some other small islands to the south; coloured pale blue; near Ono, there is an annular reef, quite similar to the one just described in the words of Captain Cook; coloured dark blue.

ROTOUMAH, 13 deg S., 179 deg E.--From the chart in Duperrey's "Atlas," I thought this island was encircled, and had coloured it blue, but the Chevallier Dillon assures me that the reef is only a shore or fringing one; red.

INDEPENDENCE Island, 10 deg S., 179 deg E., is described by Mr. G. Bennett, ("United Service Journal," 1831, part ii., page 197) as a low island of coral-formation, it is small, and does not appear to contain a lagoon, although an opening through the reef is referred to. A lagoon probably once existed, and has since been filled up; left uncoloured.


OSCAR, PEYSTER, and ELLICE Islands are figured in Arrowsmith's "Chart of the Pacific" (corrected to 1832) as atolls, and are said to be very low; blue.--NEDERLANDISCH Island. I am greatly indebted to the kindness of Admiral Krusenstern, for sending me the original documents concerning this island. From the plans given by Captains Eeg and Khremtshenko, and from the detailed account given by the former, it appears that it is a narrow coral-island, about two miles long, containing a small lagoon. The sea is very deep close to the shore, which is fronted by sharp coral-rocks. Captain Eeg compares the lagoon with that of other coral-islands; and he distinctly says, the land is "very low." I have therefore coloured it blue. Admiral Krusenstern ("Memoir on the Pacific," Append., 1835) states that its shores are eighty feet high; this probably arose from the height of the cocoa-nut trees, with which it is covered, being mistaken for land. --GRAN COCAL is said in Krusenstern's "Memoir," to be low, and to be surrounded by a reef; it is small, and therefore probably once contained a lagoon; uncoloured.--ST. AUGUSTIN. From a chart and view of it, given in the "Atlas of the 'Coquille's' Voyage," it appears to be a small atoll, with its lagoon partly filled up; coloured blue.


The chart of this group, given in the "Atlas of the 'Coquille's' Voyage," at once shows that it is composed of ten well characterised atolls. In D'Urville and Lottin's chart, SYDENHAM is written with a capital letter, signifying that it is high; but this certainly is not the case, for it is a perfectly characterised atoll, and a sketch, showing how low it is, is given in the "'Coquille's' Atlas." Some narrow strip-like reefs project from the southern side of DRUMMOND atoll, and render it irregular. The southern island of the group is called CHASE (in some charts, ROTCHES); of this I can find no account, but Mr. F.D. Bennett discovered ("Geographical Journal", volume vii., page 229), a low extensive island in nearly the same latitude, about three degrees westward of the longitude assigned to Rotches, but very probably it is the same island.

Charles Darwin

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