Île Saint-Paul

Île Saint-Paul (Saint Paul Island) is an island forming part of the French Southern and Antarctic Lands (Terres australes et antarctiques françaises, TAAF) in the Indian Ocean, with an area of 6 km2 (2.3 sq mi; 1,500 acres). The island is located about 85 km (46 nmi) southwest of the larger Île Amsterdam (55 km2 (21 sq mi)), 1,300 kilometres (810 mi) northeast of the Kerguelen Islands, and 3,000 km (1,600 nmi) southeast of Réunion. It is an important breeding site for seabirds. A scientific research cabin on the island is used for scientific or ecological short campaigns, but there is no permanent population. It is under the authority of a senior administrator on Réunion.

Saint Paul Island

Île Saint-Paul
Flag of Île Saint-Paul
Map of Saint Paul Island.
Map of Saint Paul Island.
Saint Paul Island
Île Saint-Paul
Saint Paul with Quille Rock in the foreground
Saint Paul Island is located in Indian Ocean
Saint Paul Island
Saint Paul Island
Coordinates38°43′48″S 77°31′20″E / 38.73000°S 77.52222°E
Area6 km2 (2.3 sq mi)
Length5 km (3.1 mi)
Highest elevation268 m (879 ft)
Highest pointCrête de la Novara


Île Saint-Paul is triangular in shape, and measures no more than 5 km (3.1 mi) at its widest. It is the top of an active volcano, the volcano last erupted in 1793 (from its SW Flank), and is rocky with steep cliffs on the east side. The thin stretch of rock that used to close off the crater collapsed in 1780, admitting the sea through a 100 m (330 ft) channel; the entrance is only a few meters deep, thus allowing only very small ships or boats to enter the crater. The interior basin, 1 km (0.62 mi) wide and 50 m (160 ft) deep, is surrounded by steep walls up to 270 m (890 ft) high. There are active thermal springs.


Early sightings

Île Saint-Paul was first discovered in 1559 by the Portuguese. The island was mapped, described in detail and painted by members of the crew of the Nau São Paulo, among them the Father Manuel Álvares and the chemist Henrique Dias. Álvares and Dias correctly calculated the latitude as 38° South. The ship was commanded by Rui Melo da Câmara and was part of the Portuguese India Armada commanded by Jorge de Sousa. The Nau São Paulo, who also carried women and had sailed from Europe and had scale in Brazil, would be the protagonist of a dramatic and moving story of survival after sinking south of Sumatra.

The next confirmed sighting was made by Dutchman Harwick Claesz de Hillegom on 19 April 1618.[1] There were further sightings of the island through the 17th century. One of the first detailed descriptions of it, and possibly the first landing, was made in December 1696 by Willem de Vlamingh.[1][2]

19th century

During sailing-ship days captains would occasionally use the island as a check on their navigation before heading north. Saint-Paul was occasionally visited by explorers, fishermen, and seal hunters in the 18th and 19th centuries, among which was the American sealer General Gates, which called at the island in April 1819. George William Robinson, an American sealer, was left on the island to hunt seals, and stayed there for 23 months until the General Gates returned for him in March 1821. Robinson subsequently returned to Saint-Paul in 1826 to gather sealskin, sailing from Hobart aboard his own vessel, the schooner Hunter.

The sealing period lasted from 1789 to 1876. During that period sealing visits are recorded by 60 vessels, four of which ended in shipwreck. Sealing era relics include the ruins of huts and inscriptions.[3]

France's claim to the island dates from 1843, when a group of fishermen from Réunion, interested in setting up a fishery on Saint-Paul, pushed the Governor of Réunion to take possession of both Saint-Paul and Amsterdam Island. This was performed by means of an official decree dated 8 June 1843, and on 1 July, Martin Dupeyrat, commanding the ship L'Olympe, landed on Amsterdam Island and then on Saint-Paul on 3 July, and hoisted the tricolor. The only surviving evidence of this claim is an inscribed rock situated on the edge of Saint-Paul's crater lake, inscribed "Pellefournier Emile Mazarin de Noyarez, Grenoble, Canton de Sassenage, Département de l'Isère, 1844". All fishery operations were, however, abandoned in 1853, when the French government renounced its possession of the two islands.[4]

The first good map of the island was not drawn up until 1857, when the Austrian frigate Novara landed a team which studied the flora, fauna, and geology from November to December.[5]

HMS Megaera (1849) at St Paul Island
HMS Megaera at St Paul Island.

In 1871, a British troop transport, HMS Megaera, was wrecked on the island. Most of the 400 persons on board had to remain upwards of three months before being taken off. A short, impressionistic account of the two French residents encountered by the shipwrecked crew appears in Judith Schalansky's Atlas of Remote Islands (2010).[6]

In September 1874, a French astronomical mission conveyed by the sailing ship La Dive spent just over three months on Saint-Paul to observe the transit of Venus; geologist Charles Vélain took the opportunity to make a significant geological survey of the island.

In 1889, Charles Lightoller, who was later to become famous as the Second Officer of the RMS Titanic, was shipwrecked here for eight days when the sailing barque Holt Hill ran aground. He describes the shipwreck and the island in his autobiography, Titanic and Other Ships. Lightoller speculated that pirates may have used the island and their treasure could be buried in its caves.[7]

In 1892, the crew of the French sloop Bourdonnais, followed by the ship L'Eure in 1893, again took possession of Saint-Paul and Amsterdam Island in the name of the French government.

20th century

In 1928, the Compagnie Générale des Íles Kerguelen recruited René Bossière and several Bretons and Madagascans to establish a spiny lobster cannery on Saint-Paul, "La Langouste Française". In March 1930, at the end of the second season, most of the employees left, but seven of them stayed on the island to guard the installations, supposedly for just a few months. But the promised relief arrived much too late. When the ship finally came, in December 1930, five people had died, mostly from lack of food and scurvy: Paule Brunou (a child born on the island who died two months after her birth), Emmanuel Puloc'h, François Ramamonzi, Victor Brunou, and Pierre Quillivic. Only three survivors were rescued. This event has since come to be known as Les Oubliés de Saint-Paul ("the forgotten ones of St. Paul").[8][9]

A few years later in 1938, the crew of a French fishing boat were stranded on the island. Distress calls sent by the crew over short-wave radio were fortuitously received 11,000 miles away in the United States. The message was relayed to the Navy and the French consul in San Francisco, while 12-year-old Neil Taylor, an amateur radio operator in California, made contact with the stranded crew and assured them that help was on the way.[10]

There is a fictionalized description of the island in Robert Stone's novel Outerbridge Reach (1998).


The island has a cool oceanic climate and the slopes of the volcano are covered in grass. It is a breeding site for subantarctic fur seals, southern elephant seals and rockhopper penguins. It was also the breeding site for an endemic flightless duck & several kinds of petrel before the introduction of exotic predators and herbivores, including black rats, house mice, European rabbits, pigs and goats during the 19th century or earlier. The pigs and goats have since disappeared or been eradicated. Black rats were eradicated in January 1997 following an aerial drop of 13.5 tonnes of brodifacoum anticoagulant poison baits over the island.[11]

Important Bird Area

The island, with the adjacent islet of Quille Rock, has been identified as an Important Bird Area (IBA) by BirdLife International because it supports several breeding seabirds. The island's subtropical location gives it an avifauna distinct from that of subantarctic islands and contains several breeding species which are rare in the region. Saint Paul's seabirds nested mainly on Quille Rock until rat eradication allowed some species, notably Macgillivray's prions (a subspecies of Salvin's prion) and great-winged petrels, to recolonise the main island.[11] Other species include a colony of some 9000 pairs of northern rockhopper penguins, about 20 pairs of sooty albatrosses, a few pairs of Indian yellow-nosed albatrosses, and small numbers of Australasian gannets, fairy prions, little and flesh-footed shearwaters, Wilson's storm petrels and sooty terns. The island may have once had a species of duck as a painting from 1793 shows one. However, it is not clear if this is conspecific with the Amsterdam duck (Anas marecula) or a separate taxon. No specimens have been found though, so the existence of this cannot be proved.[12]

See also



  1. ^ a b "Early History of Amsterdam and St Paul Islands, South Indian Ocean". Btinternet.com. 2003-06-29. Archived from the original on 2012-10-23. Retrieved 2012-07-26.
  2. ^ "Het Scheepvaartmuseum – Maritieme Kalender". Hetscheepvaartmuseum.nl. Archived from the original on 2014-03-26. Retrieved 2012-07-26.
  3. ^ R.K. Headland, Historical Antarctic sealing industry, Scott Polar Research Institute (Cambridge University), 2018, p.168, ISBN 978-0-901021-26-7
  4. ^ Reppe, Xavier (1957). Aurore sur l'Antarctique. Nouvelles Éditions Latines. p. 32.
  5. ^ Vélain, Charles (1878). Description géologique de la presqu'île d'Aden, de l'île de la Réunion, des îles Saint-Paul et Amsterdam. A. Hennuyer. p. 232.
  6. ^ Schalansky, Judith (2010). Atlas of Remote Islands. New York, NY: Penguin. p. 54. ISBN 978-0-14-311820-6.
  7. ^ Lightoller, C.H. (1935). "Titanic and other ships". I. Nicholson and Watson. Archived from the original on 2013-05-08.
  8. ^ Les oubliés de l'île Saint-Paul, by Daniel Floch. 1982.
  9. ^ "St. Paul and Amsterdam Islands: A History of Two Islands". Discoverfrance.net. Archived from the original on 2007-10-03.
  10. ^ "Full text of "Calling CQ – Adventures of Short-Wave Radio Operators"". Archived from the original on 2012-11-10. Retrieved 2012-07-26.
  11. ^ a b Micol & Jouventin (2002).
  12. ^ BirdLife International. (2012). Important Bird Areas factsheet: Île Saint Paul. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 2012-01-08. Archived July 10, 2007, at WebCite


  • LeMasurier, W. E.; Thomson, J. W. (eds.) (1990). Volcanoes of the Antarctic Plate and Southern Oceans. American Geophysical Union. p. 512 pp. ISBN 978-0-87590-172-5.CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link)
  • Micol, T. & Jouventin, P. (2002). "Eradication of rats and rabbits from Saint-Paul Island, French Southern Territories", in Turning the tide: the eradication of invasive species: proceedings of the International Conference on Eradication of Island Invasives, ed. Veitch, C.R.; & Clout, M.N. Gland, Switzerland: IUCN. pp. 199–205. ISBN 978-2-8317-0682-5.

External links

Coordinates: 38°43′48″S 77°31′20″E / 38.73000°S 77.52222°E

1874 transit of Venus

The 1874 transit of Venus, which took place on 9 December 1874 (01:49 to 06:26 UTC), was the first of the pair of transits of Venus that took place in the 19th century, with the second transit occurring eight years later in 1882. The previous pair of transits had taken place in 1761 and 1769, and the next pair would not take place until 2004 and 2012. As with previous transits, the 1874 transit would provide an opportunity for improved measurements and observations. Numerous expeditions were planned and sent out to observe the transit from locations around the globe, with several countries setting up official committees to organise the planning.

There were six official French expeditions. One expedition went to New Zealand's Campbell Island, the other five travelling to Île Saint-Paul in the Indian Ocean, Nouméa in New Caledonia in the Pacific, Nagasaki in Japan (with an auxiliary station in Kobe), Peking in China, and Saigon in Vietnam.There were five official British expeditions or observation sites. One expedition travelled to Hawaii, with two others sent to the Kerguelen Archipelago in the far southern reaches of the Indian Ocean, and Rodrigues, an island further north in the Indian Ocean, near Mauritius. A fourth expedition went to a site near Cairo in Egypt, and the fifth travelled to a site near Christchurch in New Zealand. Several of the expeditions included auxiliary observation stations that were constructed in addition to the main observation sites.In the United States, the Transit of Venus Commission sent out eight expeditions funded by Congress, one to Kerguelen, one to Hobart, Tasmania, one to Queenstown, New Zealand, one to Chatham Island in the southern Pacific, one led by James Craig Watson in Peking, one to Nagasaki in Japan, and one to Vladivostok in Russia. The eighth expedition had been intended for Crozet Island, but was unable to land there and instead made observations from Tasmania. These expeditions obtained 350 photographic plates for the 1874 transit.

The transit was observed from many observatories, including the Melbourne Observatory, Adelaide Observatory and Sydney Observatory in Australia, the Royal Observatory at Cape Town in what is now South Africa, the Royal Alfred Observatory on Mauritius, the Madras Observatory in Madras, India, the Colonial Time Service Observatory in Wellington, New Zealand, and the Khedivial Observatory in Egypt. The Sydney Observatory sent an observing party to Goulburn in Australia.

Italian astronomer Pietro Tacchini led an expedition to Muddapur, India. Other locations in India from where the transit was observed included Roorkee, and Visakhapatnam. The German astronomer Hugo von Seeliger directed an expedition that travelled to the Auckland Islands (subantarctic New Zealand islands). German astronomers also travelled to Isfahan in Persia, and to Kerguelen. The Dutch astronomer Jean Abraham Chrétien Oudemans made observations from Réunion, and observations were also made from various points in the Dutch East Indies. Austrian astronomers made observations from Jassy, in what is now Romania. The Russian astronomer Otto Wilhelm von Struve organised expeditions to make observations in eastern Asia, the Caucasus, Persia and Egypt. Two Mexican expeditions travelled to Yokohama in Japan.

There were also several individuals that journeyed to various locations to observe the transit, or funded private expeditions. Archibald Campbell made observations from Thebes in Egypt. James Ludovic Lindsay funded a private expedition to Mauritius. Several private or amateur observations were known to have been made from New South Wales, including from Eden, Windsor, and Sydney. A privately funded expedition from the USA also travelled to Beechworth, Victoria, in Australia.Not all the observers were able to make measurements, either due to adverse weather conditions, or problems with the equipment used. Many observers, particularly those on the official expeditions, used the new technique of photoheliography, intending to use the photographic plates to make precise measurements. However, the results of using this new technique were poor, and several expeditions were unable to produce publishable results or improve on existing values for the astronomical unit (AU). In addition to this, observations made of Mars were producing more accurate results for calculating the value of the AU than could be obtained during a transit of Venus.

45×90 points

The 45×90 points are the four points on earth which are halfway between the geographical poles, the equator, the Prime Meridian, and the 180th meridian.

Amsterdam and Saint-Paul Islands temperate grasslands

The Amsterdam and Saint-Paul Islands temperate grasslands is an ecoregion comprising two volcanic islands in the southern Indian Ocean. The only way to visit the islands is on the French research vessel Marion Dufresne II which services the Martin-de-Viviès research station on Amsterdam Island.

Amsterdam wigeon

The Amsterdam wigeon (Mareca marecula, formerly Anas marecula), also known as the Amsterdam Island duck or Amsterdam duck, was a species of anatid waterfowl, endemic to Île Amsterdam (Amsterdam Island), French Southern Territories. This flightless species is only known from bones and was presumably driven extinct by visiting sealers and the rats they introduced.A 1696 sighting by William de Vlaming of "four-footed animals" in the reeds of Amsterdam Island may have been of this duck, as there are no native land mammals on the island. No naturalist visited Amsterdam Island until 1874, by which time it was infested with rats from visiting ships, and the duck was extinct.The first bones of this species to be discovered, in 1955–56, were thought to most closely resemble those of a garganey. In 1987 bones of at least 33 individuals were recovered from rock cavities, revealing a very small duck with a short pointed bill like a wigeon's. Strong legs and reduced breastbone and wings show it was flightless. The skull's reduced salt glands indicate it was drinking little seawater, and its bones were recovered from sea level up to 500 m, suggesting it was not living on the coast. It was named Anas marecula, after the former wigeon genus Mareca.During his visit to Île Saint-Paul (St Paul Island) on 2 February 1793, explorer John Barrow mentioned the presence of "a small brown duck, not much larger than a thrush" that was "the favourite food of the five sealers living on the island". Because Amsterdam Island is 80 km away, these ducks would represent an independent case of dispersal and flightlessness, similar to the Amsterdam wigeon, but a different species.

Arthur Thomas Thrupp

Arthur Thomas Thrupp (8 June 1828 – 4 May 1889) was an officer of the British Royal Navy during the Crimean War and the Second Opium War, who held several sea commands, including Megaera, which he deliberately beached at the isolated Île Saint-Paul when she became unseaworthy.


Clubionina is a monotypic genus of sac spiders containing the single species, Clubionina pallida. It was first described by Lucien Berland in 1947, and has only been found on Île Saint-Paul.

Firstview, Colorado

Firstview is an unincorporated community in Cheyenne County, Colorado. It is on U.S. Highway 40; the nearest city is Cheyenne Wells. The geographic coordinates of Firstview are roughly the antipodes of the coordinates of Île Saint-Paul, a French island in the Indian Ocean. This island is one of only three land areas with antipodes in the United States.

The town was laid out in 1911. It was named for the spot where travelers got their first glimpse of Pikes Peak, 135 miles (217 km) to the west.

Laminaria pallida

Laminaria pallida, the split-fan kelp, is a species of large brown seaweed of the class Phaeophyceae found from Danger Point on the south coast of South Africa to Port Nolloth, Tristan da Cunha and Gough islands in the Atlantic and Île Saint-Paul in the Indian Ocean.

List of islands in the Indian Ocean

This is a list of islands in the Indian Ocean.

List of volcanoes in French Southern and Antarctic Lands

This is a list of active and dormant volcanoes.

Marc-Joseph Marion du Fresne

Marc-Joseph Marion du Fresne (22 May 1724 – 12 June 1772), with the surname sometimes spelt Dufresne, was a Breton-born French explorer who made important discoveries in the south Indian Ocean, in Tasmania and in New Zealand. Du Fresne was killed by Māori in 1772.He is commemorated in various place names, as well as in the name of the research vessel providing logistical support to the French Southern Territories of Île Amsterdam, Île Saint-Paul, Îles Crozet, and Îles Kerguelen, the Marion Dufresne II.


Martin-de-Viviès, or La Roche Godon, formerly Camp Heurtin, is a research station and the only settlement on the Île Amsterdam and Île Saint-Paul islands of the French Southern and Antarctic Lands in the southern Indian Ocean. It lies on the north coast of Amsterdam Island and houses about thirty people.It was named after Paul de Martin de Viviès who, with ten others, spent the winter of 1949 on the island.

The station was originally named Camp Heurtin and has been in operation since 1 January 1981, superseding the first station, La Roche Godon.

The Global Atmosphere Watch is one of the programs that the station participates in.

Postage stamps and postal history of the French Southern and Antarctic Territories

The French Southern and Antarctic Territories (French: Terres australes et antarctiques françaises, abbreviated TAAF) is a French overseas territory consisting of Adélie Land in coastal Antarctica and several islands in the southern Indian Ocean: the Crozet Islands, the Kerguelen Islands, Amsterdam Island and Île Saint-Paul. The territory was created on 6 August 1955, before which all were dependencies of Madagascar.

St. Paul's fingerfin

St. Paul's fingerfin, Nemadactylus monodactylus, is a species of morwong native to the waters around Île Saint-Paul and Île Amsterdam in the Indian Ocean. It has also been reported from Tristan da Cunha, Vima Mount on the west coast of South Africa, and off Australia and New Zealand.

This species reaches a size of approximately 60 cm, and is benthopelagic, feeding on both bottom-dwelling and open-water organisms. Like other species of morwongs, it is occasionally harvested by commercial fisheries, but the effects of this on the overall species population have been relatively little studied.

St Paul Island

Saint Paul Island can refer to:

Île Saint-Paul, a small island in the French Southern Territories

Saint Paul Island (Alaska), United States

St. Paul Island (Nova Scotia), Canada

Saint Peter and Saint Paul Archipelago, Brazil

St Paul's Island, Malta

Nuns' Island, originally Île Saint-Paul, part of Montreal city, Canada


Valdiviathyris is a genus of craniate brachiopods that has changed little since the Silurian, from when fossils are known. The extant species V. quenstedti is known from the late Eocene. It was initially known only from the holotype collected from the southern Indian Ocean, near Île Saint-Paul, at a depth of 672 metres (2,205 ft). The specimen is considered to be adolescent and has a thin (0.1 mm thick) calcareous dorsal valve. This has an irregular conical shape, with the tip (or apex) not coinciding with the middle, and is on the outside only adorned by growth lines. On the inside it has pits (or punctae) that branch into four or five canals further to the outside. More recent specimens have been found near New Zealand. As long as no fossils of Vadiviathyris are found dating between the Silurian and the Eocene, this genus can be regarded a Lazarus taxon.

Zacharie Robutel de La Noue

Zacharie Robutel de La Noue (June 4, 1665 – 1733) was a French lieutenant and captain in the colonial regular troops, and seigneur of Châteauguay. Robutel de La Noue was a Canadian, born in Montreal, son of Claude Robutel de La Noue, seigneur of Île Saint-Paul, and Suzanne de Gabrielle. As a soldier he escorted various expeditions - to Hudson Bay in 1686 with Pierre de Troyes, Chevalier de Troyes and up the Ottawa River in 1692. He also led military attacks on Mohawk villages in 1692-93. He was sent by governor Vaudreuil in July 1717 to establish a chain of three posts from Lake Superior to Lake of the Woods, but he was able only to re-establish a fur trading post, Fort Kaministiquia, on the Kaministiquia River. He remained there as commandant until 1721.

He died at Baie des Puants (Green Bay, Wisconsin) in 1733.

Île Amsterdam

Île Amsterdam (French pronunciation: ​[ilamstɛʁdam]), also known as Amsterdam Island, New Amsterdam, or Nouvelle Amsterdam, is an island of the French Southern and Antarctic Lands in the southern Indian Ocean that together with neighbouring Île Saint-Paul 85 km (53 mi) to the south forms one of the five districts of the territory. The research station at Martin-de-Viviès, first called Camp Heurtin and then La Roche Godon, is the only settlement on the island and is the seasonal home to about thirty researchers and staff studying biology, meteorology, and geomagnetics.

The island is roughly equidistant to the land masses of Madagascar, Australia, and Antarctica – as well as the British Indian Ocean Territory and the Cocos (Keeling) Islands (about 3,200 kilometres, 2,000 mi from each).

The island is named after the ship Nieuw Amsterdam, which is in turn named after the Dutch settlement of New Amsterdam (named after the Dutch capital Amsterdam) that later became New York City in the United States.

Outlying territories of European countries
United Kingdom
Amsterdam and Saint Paul Islands
Crozet Islands
Kerguelen Islands
Scattered Islands

This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.