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Satellite image of Kure Atoll (North is towards the upper-left corner).

Kure Atoll (pronounced /ˈkʊəri/) or Ocean Island (Hawaiian: Mokupāpapa "flat islet") lies some 48 nautical miles (89 km; 55 mi) beyond Midway Atoll in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands at 28°25′N 178°20′W / 28.417°N 178.333°W / 28.417; -178.333Coordinates: 28°25′N 178°20′W / 28.417°N 178.333°W / 28.417; -178.333. The International Date Line lies approximately 100 miles (87 nmi/160 km) to the west. Kure is the northern-most coral atoll in the world. It consists of a 6-mile (10 km) wide nearly circular barrier reef surrounding a shallow lagoon and several sand islets. The only land of significant size is called Green Island and is habitat for hundreds of thousands of seabirds. There is a total land area of 213.097 acres (86.237 ha), with Green Island having 191.964 acres (77.685 ha) of this total.

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Geological history

The Green Island from the air

The geological history of Kure follows generally the description provided in the article on Midway, but Kure lies close to what is called the Darwin Point, the latitude at which reef growth just equals reef destruction by various physical forces. As Kure continues to be slowly carried along to the northwest by the motion of the Pacific Plate, it will move into waters too cool for coral and coralline algae growth to keep up with isostatic subsidence of the mountain. Barring unforeseen evolution or global warming, it will then begin to join the other volcanic and reef-topped remnants of the Hawaiian-Emperor Chain to the northwest, all of which are now seamounts.

Human exploration and use

Before the mid-19th century, Kure Atoll was visited by several ships and given new names each time. Many crews were stranded on Kure Atoll after being shipwrecked on the surrounding reefs and had to survive on the local seals, turtles, and birds. The shipwrecks remain on the reef today, including the USS Saginaw. Because of these incidents King Kalakaua sent Colonel J. H. Boyd as his Special Commissioner to Kure. On September 20, 1886 he took possession of the island, then called Moku Papapa, for the Hawaiian government. The King ordered that a crude house be built on the island, with tanks for holding water and provisions for any other unfortunates who might be cast away there. But the provisions were stolen within a year, and the house soon fell into ruins.

Largely neglected for most of its history, during World War II Kure was routinely visited by U.S. Navy patrols from nearby Midway to insure that the Japanese were not using it to refuel submarines or flying boats from submarine-tankers, for attacks elsewhere in the Hawaiian chain.

Kure is located in the middle of a major current which constantly washes up debris such as fishing nets and large numbers of cigarette lighters on the island. These pose threats to the local animals, especially birds, whose skeletons are frequently found with plastic in the stomach cavity. [1]

Formerly, a United States Coast Guard LORAN station was located on Green Island. A short coral runway still remains on the island, but it is in disuse and it is entirely unmaintained.

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Amateur radio

Because of its particularly remote location Kure Island has been the scene of several amateur radio DX expeditions, or DX-peditions. Because the radio propagation path between Kure and Europe runs right over the North Polar region, opportunities for distant communication with Kure are particularly popular among European amateurs. The most recent two DXpeditions to Kure were:

  • 1997 – Event call sign: K7K – Expedition website – This was a joint scientific/radio operation including four fish and wildlife scientists and the eight members of the Midway-Kure DX Foundation's 1996 Midway team. The team included four scientists from the United States Department of Fish and Wildlife.
  • 2005 – Event call sign: K7C – Expedition website  – The team consisted of 12 amateur radio operators from the United States, Canada, and Germany.

References

External links


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