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Henderson Island
Site number:
Type of site: Natural
Date: -
Date of Inscription: 1988
Location: Europe, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Pitcairn Island group
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Description: Lying in the eastern South Pacific, Henderson Island is among the few worlds’ atolls whose ecology has been virtually untouched by human presence. The site’s isolated location offers the perfect milieu for investigating insular evolution and natural selection. Above all, it is distinguished for the 10 plants and four land birds that are endemic to the island. --WHMNet paraphrase from the description at WHC Site, where additional information is available.
  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 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 Rail, 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 Jõao 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 Whaleship 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. --Wikipedia. Text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License.
Reference: 1. UNESCO World Heritage Center, Site Page.
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