Archive for the 'North America' Category

A Real Shutter Island?

Saturday, February 20th, 2010

In the new movie “Shutter Island,” US marshals go to a precipitous island off the coast of Massachusetts to investigate a mystery in a huge, gothic insane asylum.

Shutter Island does not exist; there are no Shutter Islands in the entire United States, nor am I aware of any insane asylums that have ever existed on isolated American islands. There have been a number of prison or detention islands, though none quite resembled the fictional Shutter Island physically.

The last unbridged prison island in the US is McNeil Island, Washington. It houses both a large state prison complex, and a program of civil detention for sexual predators, who are essentially being confined as mentally ill.

Steep-sided, flat-topped, gloomy islands like the one in the movie are relatively rare. For physical similarity, one might go with Anacapa, in the Channel Islands of California:


(Anacapa image courtesy Scubacayman88, Flickr)

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More on Islands on Islands on Islands

Friday, January 29th, 2010

Boing Boing is having another discussion of triple islands — islands on an island on an island.

They restate Volcan Point’s claim inaccurately; it is not the largest (as I’ve noted), but is the largest — and only — volcanic triple. We should also note that Taal is regularly active, and will destroy this whole geographic construction some day, possibly soon.

My (very) small claim to fame in this regard is that I have probably been to more triple islands than anyone, on Glover Island, the large island in Grand Lake, Newfoundland. I carried an inflatable boat with which to explore the islands on it, and camped on one of the 17 or so in that lake. (I’ve never heard of another person actually sleeping on an island on an island on an island; the one in the Philippines is unsuitable, and the other Canadian ones are even more isolated.)

People like to say that Ryan Island on Isle Royale is the “largest island on the largest lake on the largest island on the largest lake in the world.” With all those qualifiers, this statement seems to be true.

The Islands of Washington DC

Wednesday, September 16th, 2009

Graffiti, Kingman IslandWorld Island Info now has comprehensive coverage of the islands of Washington DC (admittedly an obscure topic).

These includes the largest islands of DC – all the islands of DC, actually – and pages for all named islands, including Columbia Island, East Potomac Park, Heritage Island, Kingman Island, Little Island, Theodore Roosevelt Island, and the Three Sisters Islands.

(Picture copyright — usable with attribution and link.)

More about Alaskan Islands

Monday, August 10th, 2009

Totem pole detail, Ketchikan, Revillagigedo now has more information about Alaskan islands.

Alaska is extremely well-supplied with islands, with more large islands than any other state, and more island acreage than any other state, even Hawaii.

Alaska pages now include:

(Image copyright — usable with attribution and link)

Paugnang Island, Nuvavut

Monday, June 29th, 2009

A photographer on Flickr wondered about this little Canadian island:

View Larger Map

This is Paugnang Island, a small, barren island east of Padloping Island, off southeast Baffin Island. It is about 7.5 sq km / 2.9 sq miles.

Despite its small size, it rises some 667 m / 2,188 feet. It is steep-sided except at the south end, but has a relatively flat top.

Source: Toporama, Natural Resources Canada; area measurements by

Eight Disappearing Islands?

Saturday, April 18th, 2009

Maldives from spaceThe website Treehugger recently suggested eight places — low-lying islands, more specifically — that will “soon” be uninhabitable due to climate change.

They are:

  • the Maldives, in the Indian Ocean
  • Tuvalu, Kiribati, the Carteret Islands (off PNG), and Majuro Atoll (Marshall Islands) in the Pacific
  • Lamu and Pate, Kenyan coastal islands
  • Bhola, in southern Bangladesh
  • Key West, off southern Florida

“Soon” is a relative term here–many of these places would still be inhabitable for decades, under current sea-level rise forecasts.

The Pacific islands involve relatively small numbers of people; they could actually be moved, though this would involve irreparable cultural destruction. Bangladesh illustrates another level of impact: millions of people live on these low-lying islands, and tens of millions in vulnerable coastal areas.

This is of course a tiny part of the problem; hundreds of thousands of islands are in danger of disappearing or greatly shrinking in the face of sea-level rise.

(Thanks to Stu Gagnon for the tip.)

Image: Maldives from space, courtesy NASA

Update: the largest island on an island on an island

Saturday, October 20th, 2007

This summer I noted the debate about the largest island on an island on an island; I placed it in Canada.

It is in Canada, but I have confirmed my suspicions that the strongest candidate is not on Newfoundland but on Victoria Island, in Nunavut.

View Larger Map

This island in a lake on an island in a lake in south-central Victoria Island, at 69.7928° north, 108.2411° west, is 4 acres / 1.6 hectares, easily beating its rivals in size.

Canadian island superlatives

Saturday, October 20th, 2007

Canadian flagI’ve added more material on Canadian geography to a page of Canadian island superlatives.

These include Canada’s:

  • largest island
  • largest lake island
  • largest island on an island
  • most populous island
  • tallest island
  • tallest lake island
  • most common island name

Largest Atlantic islands of the US

Tuesday, September 4th, 2007

In response to a reader query, this is a preliminary list of the largest American Atlantic islands, with the areas in square miles:

1. Long I., NY –1401
2. Marsh I., LA — 117
3. Mount Desert I., ME — 106
4. Martha’s Vineyard. MA — 97
5. Merritt I., FL — 93 (boundaries debatable)
6. Saint James I., FL — 79 (partially riverine)
7. Johns I., SC — 75
8. Matagorda I., TX – c. 71
9. Port Royal I., SC — 70
10. Saint Helena I., SC — 59
11. Staten I., NY — 58.7
12. Point Au Fer I., LA — 58
13. Edisto I., SC — 54

American island superlatives

Saturday, August 11th, 2007

World Island Info has a new page on American island superlatives.

These include the:

  • largest American island
  • tallest American island
  • highest American island
  • largest American lake island
  • most heavily populated American island
  • most common name for American islands