Coral Reefs

Page 95

I will only add that no part of New Ireland appears to be fronted by distant reefs. I have coloured red only the above specified portions.


From the charts in the "Voyage of the 'Astrolabe'," and from the "Hydrog. Memoir," it appears that these coasts are entirely without reefs, as are the SCHOUTEN Islands, lying close to the northern shore of New Guinea. The western and south-western parts of New Guinea, will be treated of when we come to the islands of the East Indian Archipelago.


From the accounts by Bougainville, Maurelle, D'Entrecasteaux, and the scattered notices collected by Horsburgh, it appears, that some of the many islands composing it, are high, with a bold outline; and others are very low, small and interlaced with reefs. All the high islands appear to be fronted by distant reefs rising abruptly from the sea, and within some of which there is reason to believe that the water is deep. I have therefore little doubt they are of the barrier class.--In the southern part of the group we have ELIZABETH Island, which is surrounded by a reef at the distance of a mile; and two miles eastward of it (Krusenstern, "Append." 1835, page 42) there is a little island containing a lagoon.--Near here, also lies CIRCULAR-REEF (Horsburgh, "Direct." volume i., page 691, 4th edition), "three or four miles in diameter having deep water inside with an opening at the N.N.W. part, and on the outside steep to." I have from these data, coloured the group pale blue, and CIRCULAR-REEF dark blue.--the ANACHORITES, ECHEQUIER, and HERMITES, consist of innumerable low islands of coral-formation, which probably have atoll-like forms; but not being able to ascertain this, I have not coloured them, nor DUROUR Island, which is described by Carteret as low.

The CAROLINE ARCHIPELAGO is now well-known, chiefly from the hydrographical labours of Lutke; it contains about forty groups of atolls, and three encircled islands, two of which are engraved in Figures 2 and 7, Plate I. Commencing with the eastern part; the encircling reef round UALEN appears to be only about half a mile from the shore; but as the land is low and covered with mangroves ("Voyage autour du Monde," par F. Lutke, volume i., page 339), the real margin has not probably been ascertained. The extreme depth in one of the harbours within the reef is thirty-three fathoms (see charts in "Atlas of 'Coquille's' Voyage"), and outside at half a mile distant from the reef, no bottom was obtained with two hundred and fifty fathoms. The reef is surmounted by many islets, and the lagoon-like channel within is mostly shallow, and appears to have been much encroached on by the low land surrounding the central mountains; these facts show that time has allowed much detritus to accumulate; coloured pale blue.-- POUYNIPETE, or Seniavine. In the greater part of the circumference of this island, the reef is about one mile and three quarters distant; on the north side it is five miles off the included high islets. The reef is broken in several places; and just within it, the depth in one place is thirty fathoms, and in another, twenty-eight, beyond which, to all appearance, there was "un porte vaste et sur" (Lutke, volume ii., page 4); coloured pale blue.--HOGOLEU or ROUG. This wonderful group contains at least sixty-two islands, and its reef is one hundred and thirty-five miles in circuit. Of the islands, only a few, about six or eight (see "Hydrog. Descrip." page 428, of the "Voyage of the 'Astrolabe'," and the large accompanying chart taken chiefly from that given by Duperrey) are high, and the rest are all small, low, and formed on the reef. The depth of the great interior lake has not been ascertained; but Captain D'Urville appears to have entertained no doubt about the possibility of taking in a frigate. The reef lies no less than fourteen miles distant from the northern coasts of the interior high islands, seven from their western sides, and twenty from the southern; the sea is deep outside.

Charles Darwin

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