Rawaki, Rawaki Islands

Rawaki (formerly Phoenix Island) is the second smallest and easternmost of the Rawaki Islands, being located 180 km southeast from Abariringa and 73 km southeast from Enderbury.

With an area of just 0.5 km², the tiny 1.2 km by 800 m island takes the form of a low coral island vegetated with grasses and low shrubs. As is common with many of the islands in the central Pacific, Rawaki is surrounded by a raised beach crest with the interior of the island forming a saucer-like depression. Within the central depression there is a hypersaline lake of around 20 ha in extent and a number of small fresh water pools — the only freshwater wetlands to be found in the Rawaki Islands. Surrounding the island is a narrow fringing reef that in places extends up to 100 m from the shore.

The island serves as an important site for breeding seabirds, having some of the largest populations to be found in the central Pacific. Most numerous species include the Sooty Tern (Sterna fuscata), Lesser Frigatebird (Fregata ariel), Audubon's Shearwater (Puffinus l'herminieri) and the Wedge-tailed Shearwater (Puffinus pacificus).

image: earth sciences and image analysis laboratory, nasa johnson space center

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