Archive for April, 2006

Taiwan to rejoin China

Tuesday, April 25th, 2006

Due to plate tectonics, Taiwan is creeping toward the mainland, and the island will unite with the continent in “a few million years.”

Meanwhile, the same article reports that the island is getting rapidly taller: the same tectonic processes are pushing up its mountains at 2 or 3 cm a year.

Japan hopes to grow island

Tuesday, April 25th, 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.”)

Query: Lena River Delta islands, Siberia, Russia

Monday, April 24th, 2006

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.

Page 17 of that paper refers to Tit-Ary Island, south of Arga.

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]

Private islands blog

Sunday, April 23rd, 2006

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.

Translations lost at sea

Saturday, April 22nd, 2006

The Tokdo (Dokdo) / Takeshima dispute between Japan and Korea is heating up again, and could lead to a particularly stupid war.

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?)

Chongming Island, China: not so large

Friday, April 14th, 2006

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.

Name that island

Monday, April 10th, 2006

I was looking at this aerial photo by Automatt on Flickr. He doesn’t say what continent he was flying over, but the river island looked familiar.

“Western Michigan,” I thought. Sure enough, it is Harbor Island in Grand Haven, seen from the northeast.

Image: Automatt (Flickr)

The highest islanders in the world

Saturday, April 8th, 2006

With the possible exception of a few Tibetan monks, the islanders of Lake Titicaca inhabit the highest populated islands in the world.

The NYT here reports on Taquile and its 2,000 Taquileños, on the Peruvian side of the lake. And another tourist recently visited two other Titicaca islands, along with Taquile.

For a more in-depth view of the island, see this article.

The first islanders

Saturday, April 8th, 2006

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.

Lost — off South Carolina

Saturday, April 8th, 2006

A lost fisherman spent nine days marooned on Turtle Island, in the Sea Islands of southeast South Carolina, before being found.