Archive for April, 2006
To firm up the definition of Okinotorishima as an island — and thereby insure rights to a large economic zone in the Pacific — Japan is planning to seed corals on the reef in hopes that the island might grow. The island is now almost wholly covered at high tide.
Overall, the Japanese case is weak, though the government argues otherwise. According the the UPI article,
Last year Shintaro Ishihara, the nationalist Governor of [Tokyo], was photographed kissing its dwindling earth. The problem is Article 121 of Part VIII of the UN Convention: “Rocks which cannot sustain human habitation or economic life of their own shall have no exclusive economic zone or continental shelf.” Even Mr Ishihara would balk at living on Okino-Torishima, although there is talk of setting up an electricity plant to establish “economic life”.
(Perhaps the Japanese have heard this Malay saying: “Where good seed falls into the sea, one day an island may appear.”)
A reader asks: “In my atlas there is a large island at the northwest end of the Lena River delta in the Russian Arctic. It is not named in the atlas, but it appears to be bigger than Vaygach. Have you any information on this?”
The distinct islands shown on some maps of the delta seem to be illusory; see Google maps, which shows a largely unifed delta.
That said, see the map on p. 2 of this paper. “Arga Island” seems largely to correspond with the beige area in the Google satellite view, and could be some 10,000 square km, or 4,000 square miles.
But it’s not much of an island: see these details of the channels that would form its southern boundary.
Virtually the only references to Arga Island online (at least in English) are in the context of that single paper on Nikolay Lake.
This paper has this to say:
The western part of the Lena Delta is formed by a large, 20-m-high sand island fringed by a unique lace coast formed by narrow estuary-like bays deeply penetrating the land. This unique coast undergoes intensive erosion not only on promontories but also inside of estuaries due to storm surges reaching to >2 m height. The sand island is characterized by typical lake-thermokarst relief.
Here is a small, real island in the delta, indicating that other islands have names.
So, is there a large island in the northwest of the Lena River Delta? I suppose so, but you can be the judge.
[Russian islands, delta islands]
I heard from Cheyenne Morrison, a noted broker of private islands, today. He has a blog about buying and living on your own island here.
On a blog, an angry poster listing Japan’s historical offenses against Korea leveled this curious accusation: “The Japs has made the land to be officially named ‘Half Island’ instead of ‘Peninsula’. Kingdom of Forgery!”
“Hanto” is Japanese for “peninsula,” and means “half-island” in English. That is of course the same meaning as “peninsula,” which is Latin for “almost island.”
The oddest part of this complaint is that in Korean the Koreas occupy a “bando.” What does this mean? An American university notes that “the Korean term for peninsula (bando) means literally ‘half-island.'”
(“Half-” or “semi-island” is the term for peninsula in many languages. Perceiving a protuberance of land this way does not seem self-evident, and I wonder what peninsulas are called by peoples for whom islands were the center of things, not isolated fragments, for instance in the Pacific?)
A Reuters article in the Washington Post claimed today that Chongming Dao, in the Yangtze north of Shanghai, is larger than Cyprus. In fact, it is much smaller, at only 1,041.4 sq km. Cyprus is actually nine times Chongming’s size, at 9,251 sq km, making it the 81st largest island in the world.
Chinese commonly claim that it is the largest alluvial island in the world. This is incorrect, as most river islands are alluvial, and Brazil has a number of larger alluvial islands in the Amazon, beginning with 40,100 sq km Marajo.
They also cite it as the third largest island of China, after Taiwan and Hainan, but it is more accurately the second largest, as Taiwan is not currently administered by China.
With the possible exception of a few Tibetan monks, the islanders of Lake Titicaca inhabit the highest populated islands in the world.
For a more in-depth view of the island, see this article.
The first vertebrate islanders — or at least their relatives — have been identified by paleontologists working on Ellesmere Island in the Canadian Arctic.
The creatures, dubbed Tiktaalik roseae, appear to be a transitional form between fish and land animals, and lived 375 million years ago.
They may have been among the first vertebrates to venture onto islands, where they would have joined insects and spiders.