Oeno Island

Oeno Island
Oeno Island

Oeno Island or Holiday Island is a coral atoll in the South Pacific Ocean, part of the Pitcairn Islands overseas territory, located 143 km northwest of Pitcairn Island, at 23°55′26″S, 130°44′03″W. Oeno Island measures about 5 km in diameter, including the central lagoon, with a total area exceeding 20 km².
There are two larger and three smaller islets on the rim of the atoll. Their aggregate land area is only 0.69 km². Oeno Island serves as a private holiday site for the few residents of Pitcairn Island, who will travel there and stay for a couple of days.

The main island (Oeno), about 0.5 km² in area, has forest and scrub with pandanus and palm trees. It is located on the southwest rim of the atoll. There is a water tap installed on the island. The maximum elevation is less than 5 meters. Three smaller islets are to the south and west of the main island.
Sandy Island, the second largest islet, is an uninhabited and unvegetated strip of sand. It is on northern rim of the atoll, at 23°54′44″S, 130°43′37″W.
A bright strip of sand surrounds a pale blue lagoon and the remnants of a volcanic peak on Oeno Island. Sitting approximately 280 kilometers northwest of Pitcairn Island in the South Pacific, Oeno is a prime example of a tropical island in the middle stages of its development.

Like Pitcairn, Oeno started out as a rocky volcanic peak. Over time, coral colonized the submerged edge of the island, each generation building up and out from the last until a solid ring of coral, called a fringing reef, circled the island.
Sand made from the calcium-rich skeletons of coral and reef dwellers creates the brilliant white beaches seen along the outer edge of the fringing reef.
Eventually, the volcanic hotspot that fueled Oeno’s initial growth shifted, and the central rocky mass began to sink and erode, leaving a shallow, pale blue lagoon in its place.
A heavily eroded remnant of the island’s volcanic peak still rises above the surface in the southwest corner of the lagoon. When the center peak is entirely gone, only the reef will remain, and the island will become a coral atoll.

The island has been identified by BirdLife International as an Important Bird Area (IBA) principally for its colony of Murphy’s Petrels, which, at some 12,500 pairs, is estimated to be the second largest colony of these birds in the world.


 

Geography

Oeno Atoll map
Click to enlarge

Located 143 kilometres (89 mi) northwest of Pitcairn Island, at 23°55′26″S 130°44′03″W. Oeno Atoll measures about 5 kilometres (3.1 miles) in diameter, including the central lagoon, with a total area exceeding 20 square kilometres (7.7 sq mi).

There are two larger and three smaller islets on or within the rim of the atoll. Their aggregate land area is only 0.69 square kilometres (170 acres). Oeno Island serves as a private holiday site for the few residents of Pitcairn Island, who will travel there and stay for two weeks in January.

The main island (Oeno), about 0.5 square kilometres (120 acres) in area, has forest and scrub with pandanus and palm trees. It is located in the southwest part of the atoll’s lagoon.

There is a water tap installed on the island.
The maximum elevation is less than 5 metres (16 ft). Sandy Island (or Islands) is to the northeast and may be an ephemeral island. Three smaller islets are to the south and west of the main island.


 

History

Pond on Oeno Island
Pond on Oeno Island

June 1819
Captain James Henderson of the British East India Company ship Hercules sights Oeno Island.

26 January 1824
Captain George Worth aboard the American whaler Oeno names the atoll after his ship.

5 March 1858
The Wild Wave, a 1500 ton clipper ship sailing from San Francisco, is wrecked on Oeno’s reef.

1875
The Khandeish is wrecked on Oeno

23 August 1883
The Oregon is wrecked on Oeno

April 1893
The Bowdon is wrecked on Oeno

10 July 1902
Oeno annexed by the United Kingdom

1938
Incorporated into the Pitcairn Islands colony

1997
Polynesian Rats exterminated

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