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ABOUT U.S. BAKER
Baker Island (pronounced
/ˈbeɪkər/) is an uninhabited
located just north of the
equator in the central
Pacific Ocean about 3,100 kilometers (1,700 nmi; 1,900 mi)
Honolulu. The island lies almost halfway between
Australia, and is a possession of the
United States. Its nearest neighbor is
Howland Island, 68 kilometers (37 nmi; 42 mi) to the north.
0.19472; -176.47944. the island
covers 1.64 square kilometers (0.63 sq mi), with 4.9 kilometers
(3.04 mi) of coastline. The climate is equatorial, with little
rainfall, constant wind, and strong sunshine. The terrain is
low-lying and sandy: a coral island surrounded by a narrow fringing
reef with a depressed central area devoid of any lagoon with its
highest point being 8 meters (26 ft) above sea level.
The island now forms the Baker Island
National Wildlife Refuge, which consists of all 405 acres (164
ha) of the island and a surrounding 30,500 acres (12,343 ha) or
47.656 sq mi (123.43 km2) of submerged land. The
National Wildlife Refuge is managed by the
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as an
insular area under the
U.S. Department of the Interior and is an
unorganized territory of the U.S.
Its defense is the responsibility of the
United States; though uninhabited, it is visited annually by the
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. For statistical purposes, Baker
is grouped with the
United States Minor Outlying Islands
A cemetery and rubble from earlier
settlements are located near the middle of the west coast, where
the boat landing area is located. There are no ports or harbors,
with anchorage available only offshore. The narrow fringing reef
surrounding the island can be a maritime hazard, so there is a
day beacon near the old village site. Baker's abandoned
World War II runway, 1,665 m (5,463 ft) long, is completely
covered with vegetation and is unusable.
The U.S. claims an
Exclusive Economic Zone of 200 nmi
(370.4 km; 230.2 mi) and
territorial sea of 12 nmi (22.2 km; 13.8 mi) around Baker
During a 1935–1942 colonization attempt,
the island was most likely on Hawaii time, which was then 10.5
UTC. Since it is uninhabited the island's time zone is
unspecified, but it lies within a
nautical time zone 12 hours behind UTC.
Baker was discovered in 1818 by
Captain Elisha Folger of the
Nantucket whaling ship Equator, who called
the island "New Nantucket". In August 1825 Baker was
resighted by Captain
Obed Starbuck of the Loper, also a Nantucket
whaler. The name goes back to Michael Baker, who visited
the island in 1834. Other references state that he
visited in 1832, and again on August 14, 1839, in the
whaler Gideon Howland, to bury an American
The United States
took possession of the island in 1857, claiming it under
Guano Islands Act of 1856. Its
guano deposits were mined by the American Guano
Company from 1859 to 1878.
John T. Arundel and Company, a British firm, made
the island its headquarters for its guano-digging
operations in the Pacific from 1886 to 1891.
In 1866 the
British Empire made a claim on the island, also
using it for Guano. It was eventually recaptured by the
USA in 1934. To clarify American sovereignty, Executive
Order 7358 was issued on May 13, 1936.
In 1935, a short-lived attempt at
colonization was begun. The American colonists arrived
aboard the USCGC
Itasca, the same vessel that brought
colonists to neighboring
Howland Island, on April 3, 1935. They built a
lighthouse, substantial dwellings, and attempted to grow
various plants. One sad-looking clump of coconut palms
was jokingly called "King-Doyle Park" after two
well-known citizens of Hawaii who visited on the
Taney in 1938. This clump was the best on the
island, planted near a water seep, but the dry climate
and sea birds, eager for anything upon which to perch,
did not give the trees or shrubs much of a chance to
King-Doyle Park was later adopted
as a geographical name by the
The settlement was named
Meyerton after Captain H.A. Meyer of the
United States Army, who helped establish the camps
for the colonists in 1935. It had a population of four
American civilians, who were all evacuated in 1942 after
Japanese air and naval attacks. During
World War II it was occupied by the U.S. military.
Since the war, Baker Island has
Feral cats were eradicated from the island in 1964.
Public entry is by special-use permit only from the U.S.
Fish and Wildlife Service, and it is generally
restricted to scientists and educators.
Baker has no natural fresh water
sources. It is treeless, with sparse vegetation
consisting of four kinds of grass, prostrate vines and
low-growing shrubs. The island is primarily a nesting,
roosting, and foraging habitat for seabirds, shorebirds,
and marine wildlife.
Island is home to a number of threatened and endangered
bristle-thighed curlew and
Pacific golden plover are shorebirds that inhabit
the island and are considered species of High Concern on
the national conservation priority scheme.
Green turtles and
hawksbill turtles, both threatened, can be found
along the reef.
Seabird species such as the
brown noddy and
sooty tern use the island for nesting and roosting.
The island is also believed to be a rest stop for
Debris from past human occupation is
scattered throughout the island and in offshore waters.
Most of this debris is left from the U.S. military and
Coast Guard occupation of the island from 1942-46. The
most noticeable remnant remaining from the military is
the 150-foot wide, 5,400- foot long airstrip. At the
northeast section, apparently the main camp area, are
the remains of several buildings and heavy equipment.
Five wooden antenna poles about 40 feet in height remain
standing in the camp. Several crashed airplanes and
large equipment such as bulldozers are scattered around
the island. Numerous bulldozer excavations containing
the remnants of metal, fuel, and water drums are
scattered about the north central portion and northern
edge of the island. The Navy reported the loss of 11
landing craft in the surf during World War II.
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