Lisianski Island

Lisianski Island (Hawaiian: Papa‘āpoho) is one of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, with a land area of 384.425 acres (155.571 ha) and a maximum elevation of 40 feet (12 m) above sea level. It is a low, flat sand and coral island about 905 nautical miles (1,041 mi; 1,676 km) northwest of Honolulu, Hawaii.[1] The island is surrounded by reefs and shoals, including the extensive Neva Shoals. Access to the island is possible only by helicopter or by boat via a narrow sandy inlet on the southeastern side of the island.

Lisianski Island
Native name:
View of Lisianski from the air.
Lisianski Island is located in Pacific Ocean
Lisianski Island
Lisianski Island
LocationPacific Ocean
Coordinates26°03′51″N 173°57′57″W / 26.064031°N 173.965802°W / 26.064031; -173.965802Coordinates: 26°03′51″N 173°57′57″W / 26.064031°N 173.965802°W / 26.064031; -173.965802
ArchipelagoNorthwestern Hawaiian Islands
Area384.425 acres (155.571 ha)
Length1.2 mi (1.9 km)
Width0.6 mi (1 km)
Coastline3.1 mi (5 km)


Politically, Lisianski Island is part of the City and County of Honolulu[2] in the State of Hawaii. However, as part of the Hawaiian Islands National Wildlife Refuge, it is administered by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service. It has no resident human population.

Geology and topographyEdit

Lisianski Island is made of limestone that caps the submerged summit of an extinct shield volcano[3] that was active about 20 million years ago. Lisianski Island is undergoing the slow process of erosion, and features a depression between two tall sand dunes, that is thought to once have been a lagoon like the one on Laysan, its nearest neighbor. For this reason, the island's selected Hawaiian name, Papa‘āpoho, means "island with a depression". Over three-quarters of the Bonin petrels that nest in Hawaii nest here. Recent discovery of subfossils on the island indicate that Laysan duck populations once occurred on the island, possibly inhabiting the former lagoon.


Lisianski Island is named after Yuri Lysianskyi, a Russian Imperial explorer and an officer in the Imperial Russian Navy. Lysianskyi was the commanding officer of the Russian-American Company's merchant sloop Neva, which was on an exploration mission as part of the first Russian circumnavigation of the world when she ran aground on the island in 1805. Lysianskyi reported the island to be of little interest, except insofar as its surrounding reefs and shoals posed a threat to passing vessels.

King Kamehameha IV claimed the island for the Kingdom of Hawaii on 10 May 1857. In 1890, the North Pacific Phosphate and Fertilizer Company acquired a twenty-year lease on the island from the Kingdom of Hawaii.

After the overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy in 1893, Lisianski Island became part of the Republic of Hawaii in 1894. On August 12, 1898, the United States annexed Hawaii, including Lisianski Island, and Lisianski Island was included in the Territory of Hawaii upon its creation on April 30, 1900. In 1909, Lisianski Island became part of the new Hawaiian Islands Bird Reservation — which later became the Hawaiian Islands National Wildlife Refuge — established by U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt. Prior to this, there had been concern about the poaching of birds on the island.[1][4]

When Hawaii became a U.S. state in August 1959, Lisianski Island became part of the new State of Hawaii. On June 15, 2006, it was included in the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument.[5]

Neva ShoalsEdit

The coral at Neva Shoals

Neva Shoals is a shallow reef directly southeast of Lisianski Island covering 979 square kilometers (378 sq mi),[6] more than half the size of Oahu. Lisiansky named Neva Shoals, after his ship, Neva. The shoal is shallow and makes access to the island difficult. The reef has been described by divers as a "coral garden" [1] because of the great variety of coral. Twenty-four types of coral have been identified at the reefs surrounding Lisianski. Reef fish are abundant, including predators.[6]

A bathymetric chart of the Neva shoal
A satellite image of the Neva shoal

See alsoEdit



  1. ^ a b "Lisianski Island and Neva Shoals" Archived 2006-09-29 at the Wayback Machine National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved 12-22-2011.
  2. ^ Bryan, p. 10.
  3. ^ Macdonald, G. A.; et al. (1983). Volcanoes in the Sea: The Geology of Hawaii (2nd edition). University of Hawaii Press. pp. 480–481. ISBN 0-8248-0832-0.
  4. ^ "NWHI: About: Lisianski Island" Archived 2004-03-18 at the Wayback Machine Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Multi-Agency Education Project. Retrieved October 12, 2011
  5. ^ U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Hawaiian Islands National Wildlife Refuge: About the Refuge
  6. ^ a b "Lisianski Island" Archived 2004-03-18 at the Wayback Machine, a University of Hawai'i webpage

External linksEdit