Saturday, June 20, 2015

Palmyra Atoll

Not every list of countries includes this, but from those that do, what emerges is really quite extraordinary. Palmyra Atoll is not a country at all. It is a bureaucratic error. A typing mistake.

Geographically, it is one of those innumerable atolls that inhabit the Pacific Ocean. Hawaii claimed it in 1862, and the US included it among the Hawaiian Islands when it annexed the archipelago in 1898. However, the Hawaii Statehood Act of 1959 did not include it, leaving the poor Palmyra Atoll like that little scrawny kid in 7th grade when the big boys got to pick their soccer team one by one, and he’s still standing there even after two of the girls have been invited to play. America felt sorry for the scrawny kid, and said, we’ll create a special team that you can play on too, and so they invented the United States Pacific Island Wildlife Refuges, part of which is now privately owned by the Nature Conservancy, while the remainder is under the authority of the US Fish and Wildlife Service. The other players on this team of rejects are Baker Island, Howland Island, Jarvis Island, Johnston Atoll, Kingman Reef and Midway Islands. Good on ya, America. Some points in your favour just earned (but you still have a long way to go I’m afraid to reach positive).

Take a look at TheNatureConservancy website, for some amazing photos of Palmyra Atoll, and also (though you have to pay a subscription to read it, or any other of its articles), an explanation of how and why millions were spent to get rid of the rats from the island (there is no complementary article, alas, explaining why the rats at Palmyra were a priority over, say, the rats in my apartment in Miami, or the rats spreading plague in various parts of Asia and Africa and South America, but we should nonetheless praise those who saw fit to get rid of the rats on virtually uninhabited Palmyra Atoll.)

Marks for: I'm sorry, but you'll have to donate or subscribe if you want this invaluable piece of information.

Marks against: none, or not on the doors and walls anyway, now that the rats have been removed.

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