Phoenix Islands Protected Area
- Last Updated on Wednesday, 13 February 2013 22:17
The Phoenix Island Marine Protected Area - the world’s largest marine protected area - is rarely experienced, with islands of tranquility where the scenery that is naturally breathtaking with coral islands surrounding picturesque blue lagoons and white sparkling sandy beaches stretching as far as the eye can see. There is a sense of awe where there is peace and calm. These islands are a great place to experience the true beauty of Kiribati, as true escape from home life where there is no crowding, nor traffic congestions, no shopping malls, no boat traffic, no sky scrapers and no pollution. Here you won’t have to worry about time as it is timeless.
Wildlife is prolific in the islands of Line and Phoenix groups which are very popular for nesting and feeding grounds for 19 species of wild sea birds (18 species of tropic seabirds and 1 endemic species of land bird native to Christmas Island.) Boobies, Frigates, Noddies, Petrels, Shearwaters, and Terns are found in abundance. Other large numbers of migratory wild birds like the Golden Plovers, Wandering Tattlers, Bristle-thighed Curlews and Turnstones are also seen on the islands during September to May. Other forms of wildlife that can be seen are nesting turtles and crabs (coconut crabs, hermit crabs & land crabs) which are found in large numbers.
The Kiribati Government is in the process of nominating the Phoenix Island Marine Protected Area for listing as a World Heritage Site. More information on PIPA can be obtained at www.phoenixislands.org.
Some facts and figures on the Pheonix Island Protected Area
- Ecompasses 408 250 sq kilometres, with 28 km of this being land area.
- Approximately 40 people live on Kanton island.
- There are 8 atolls with only 1 beign inhabited.
- 14 submerged seamounts
- 120 species of coral
- 500 speciaes of fish.
- The 8 atolls and the 2 submerged reefs represent the highest of the extinct volcanoes in the marine protected area. There are many others below the surface. These underwater mountains contribute to the huge diversity of marine habitat types.
- An area of unique submerged water currents and hence is believed to play a significant role in the dispersal of marine animals and larve throughout the world.
- There have been minimal human impact and is in a near pristine state approximately 120 species of coral and 500 species of fish. The area is truly an oceanic wilderness.
- A spectacular giant clam comminities exist.
- Important marine turtle nesting an breeding beaches on Kanton Island and Orona atolls.
- A range of Endemic species of corals and fish exist in the area.
- The area is a significant spawning ground for tuna in the Pacific.
- These islands are a unique stepping ground for migratory and pelagic and planktonic species.
- PIPA also supports a range of marine environments that display high levels of marine abundance (of both age and colour) of species that have been depleted elsewhere in the Pacifci. Breeds include apex predator fish, sea turtles, sea birds, giant clams, and coconut crabs.
- Serves as a crucial breeding and resting area for a number of threatened migratory birds.
- The history of the area is diverse and spans centuries. There are remnants of unique cultural history reflecting ancient Polynesian and Micronesian exploration and settlement of the Pacific, 19th century whaling, guano discovery and extraction, aviation history, and the areas role in WWII, the cold war and space exploration.
A big part of what has kept PIPA so pristine is its isolation - the very same that inhibits any mass visitation. Currently it is very hard to travel to the Phoenix Island Protected Area, unless you charter a private yacht or boat; or an air charter via the Kanton Island air strip. Kanton Island is deemed an official entry point for immigration purposes.
The Government of Kiribati currently working to improve access to the wonders of PIPA, however at the same time is keen to ensure that it is a very exclusive destination in order to preserve the natural environment. The best point of contact for any intended visitors can be found at: http://www.phoenixislands.org/contact.html.
PIPA Permit Application for Research
Those interested in visiting PIPA for research purposes are required to apply for a permit application to the Government of Kiribati.