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Starbuck Island

Over the years, many questions have been asked about Starbuck Island The most frequent one is "Who cares?" I will not dignify that one with answer, but will answer the others.

Does Starbuck Island exist?


Are you kidding me?


Where is it?

In the South Pacific Ocean. It is one of the Line Islands, a chain that extends south from Palmyra Island (south of Hawai'i) towards the Tuamotu Archipelago near Tahiti. Its Latitude and Longitude are 5 degrees 38 minutes South and 155 degrees 55 mintues West.

What does the most recent chart look like?

Click on the chart for the full size version
As you can see, the most recent chart was made in 1882 with an update in 1957.

What's there?

Not a lot. As far as I can make out from the things I've read, there some bushes and a large quantity of guano. The guano was mined for phosphate in the last century. There are the remains of some sheds and reservoirs left behind by the guano miners. There are large numbers of sooty terns and other seabirds (the guano has to come from somewhere) on the island. The reef is infested with sharks and manta rays.

Any relation to Starbucks Coffee?

Not really. Starbucks the coffee is named after a character in Moby Dick (he was Captain Ahab's first mate). Starbuck the island is named after the captain who discovered it. Both the fictional first mate and the real captain came from Nantucket, where Starbuck was not uncommon family name in the 19th century.

Any relation to Starbuck from Battlestar Galactica?

Not as such.

Are there are images of Starbuck Island from space?

Here are some photographs taken from the Space Shuttle

Shuttle Picture 1 Shuttle Picture 2 Shuttle Picture 3
The island does tends to get lost in the clouds.

What does the Encylopedia Britannica Online have to say about Starbuck Island?

Starbuck Island, formerly Volunteer Island, coral atoll in the Central and Southern Line Islands, part of Kiribati, southwest Pacific Ocean. It lies 2,000 miles (3,200 km) south of Honolulu. A barren formation rising only to 15 feet (5 m), it has a landarea of 8 square miles (21 square km) and a lagoon 5.5 miles by 2 miles (9 by 3km). Sighted in 1823 by Valentine Starbuck, the British master of a whaling ship, it was claimed by the United States under the Guano Act of 1856 but was annexed by Britain in 1866. Guano deposits on the island were worked from 1870 to 1920. With the other Central and Southern Line Islands, Starbuck became a part of the Gilbert and Ellice Islands Colony in 1972 and a part of independent Kiribati in 1979. The island is uninhabited.

How do I get there? Has anybody been there recently?

You can only get there by boat. I recently received an e-mail from Wayne and Karen Brown of The Ocean Adventure. They also sent me the following pictures from their trip there (click on pictures for a larger version):
Picture 1
Picture 2
Picture 3

Any shipwrecks?

Lots. Most of the visitors to Starbuck Island seem to have got there unintentionally. For example...

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