conclusion: Lushly wooded Caroline Atoll, with the majority of its 39 islets (399 ha of land) either in near-pristine condition or having recovered remarkably from past disturbance, is one of the least spoiled atolls in the Pacific. Uninhabited, it harbors plant ecosystems and breeding seabirds (Pt. II) of national and international importance. Its marine and terrestrial ecosystems are prime outdoor ecological laboratories for research on geological processes including ground water, sea level changes, the dynamics of motu formation, fish poisoning, and numerous facets of ecology including plant succession and Pisonia growth rates. Caroline boasts prime coral reefs thickly studded with Tridacna clams, substantial numbers of coconut crabs, breeding sites for green turtles, wintering grounds for shorebirds including the rare Bristle-thighed Curlew, ancient Tuamotuan marae, and a crystalline, unpolluted lagoon. The variety, abundance, and quality of its flora and fauna qualify it for status as an officially recognized international preserve (Pt. II, Sect. G). Efforts toward its conservation have thus far been unsuccessful: in 1992 it was leased to a private French businessman who is currently fishing the reefs for commercial profit, as well as disturbing seabird, turtle and coconut crab populations.
Additional Publication Details
The natural history of Caroline Atoll, Southern Line Islands. Part I. History, physiography, botany, and isle descriptions