Coral Reefs

Page 92

Mr. Bennett informs me that the man at the masthead reported an appearance of lagoon-water in the centre; and, therefore, considering its position, I have coloured it blue. --PITT Island, at the extreme northern point of the group, is left uncoloured, as its exact position and nature is not known.--BYRON Island, which lies a little to the eastward, does not appear to have been visited since Commodore Byron's voyage, and it was then seen only from a distance of eighteen miles; it is said to be low; uncoloured.

OCEAN, PLEASANT, and ATLANTIC Islands all lie considerably to the west of the Gilbert group: I have been unable to find any distinct account of them. Ocean Island is written with small letters in the French chart, but in Krusenstern's "Memoir" it is said to be high.


We are well acquainted with this group from the excellent charts of the separate islands, made during the two voyages of Kotzebue: a reduced one of the whole group may be easily seen in Krusenstern's "Atlas," and in Kotzebue's "Second Voyage." The group consists (with the exception of two LITTLE islands which probably have had their lagoon filled up) of a double row of twenty-three large and well-characterised atolls, from the examination of which Chamisso has given us his well-known account of coral-formations. I include GASPAR RICO, or CORNWALLIS Island in this group, which is described by Chamisso (Kotzebue's "First Voyage," volume iii., page 179) "as a low sickle-formed group, with mould only on the windward side." Gaspard Island is considered by some geographers as a distinct island lying N.E. of the group, but it is not entered in the chart by Krusenstern; left uncoloured. In the S.W. part of this group lies BARING Island, of which little is known (see Krusenstern's "Appendix," 1835, page 149). I have left it uncoloured; but BOSTON Island I have coloured blue, as it is described (Ibid.) as consisting of fourteen small islands, which, no doubt, enclose a lagoon, as represented in a chart in the "'Coquille's' Atlas."--Two islands, AUR KAWEN and GASPAR RICO, are written in the French chart with capital letters; but this is an error, for from the account given by Chamisso in Kotzebue's "First Voyage," they are certainly low. The nature, position, and even existence, of the shoals and small islands north of the Marshall group, are doubtful.


Any chart, on even a small scale, of these islands, will show that their shores are almost without reefs, presenting a remarkable contrast with those of New Caledonia on the one hand, and the Fidji group on the other. Nevertheless, I have been assured by Mr. G. Bennett, that coral grows vigorously on their shores; as indeed, will be further shown in some of the following notices. As, therefore, these islands are not encircled, and as coral grows vigorously on their shores, we might almost conclude, without further evidence, that they were fringed, and hence I have applied the red colour with rather greater freedom than in other instances.--MATTHEW'S ROCK, an active volcano, some way south of the group (of which a plan is given in the "Atlas of the 'Astrolabe's' Voyage") does not appear to have reefs of any kind about it.--ANNATOM, the southernmost of the Hebrides; from a rough woodcut given in the "United Service Journal" (1831, part iii., page 190), accompanying a paper by Mr. Bennett, it appears that the shore is fringed; coloured red.--TANNA. Forster, in his "Observations" (page 22), says Tanna has on its shores coral-rock and madrepores; and the younger Forster, in his account (volume ii., page 269) speaking of the harbour says, the whole S.E. side consists of coral-reefs, which are overflowed at high-water; part of the southern shore in Cook's chart is represented as fringed; coloured red.--IMMER is described ("United Service Journal," 1831, part iii., page 192) by Mr. Bennett as being of moderate elevation, with cliffs appearing like sandstone: coral grows in patches on its shore, but I have not coloured it; and I mention these facts, because Immer might have been thought from Forster's classification ("Observations," page 14), to have been a low island or even an atoll.-- ERROMANGO Island; Cook ("Second Voyage," volume ii., page 45, 4to edition) speaks of rocks everywhere LINING the coast, and the natives offered to haul his boat over the breakers to the sandy beach: Mr.

Charles Darwin

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