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Hatutu (Hatutaʻa)
Satellite image of Hatutu (center), Eiao to the southwest and Motu One to the northeast
Satellite image of Hatutu (center), Eiao to the
southwest and
Motu One to the northeast
Waters Pacific Ocean
Archipelago Marquesas
Geographical location 7 ° 55 ′ 12 ″  S , 140 ° 34 ′ 11 ″  W Coordinates: 7 ° 55 ′ 12 ″  S , 140 ° 34 ′ 11 ″  W
Hatutu (Marquesas)
surface 6.6 km²
Highest elevation (unnamed)
428  m
Residents uninhabited
Map sketch
Map sketch

Hatutu , also known as Hatutaʻa , old names: Langdon, Nexsen, is an uninhabited island in the southern Pacific Ocean , which geographically belongs to the Marquesas and politically to French Polynesia .


The island is 6.2 km long, 1.3 km wide and lies in the northern group of the Marquesas, northeast of Eiao , separated from it only by a 5 km wide sound. Hatutu is of volcanic origin. The predominantly basaltic rocks that make up the 6.6 km² island are 4.7 to 4.9 million years old.

Hatutu is not protected by a fringing reef . A heavy surf immediately hits the steep cliffs. Coastal plains and beaches are completely absent. Above a cliff up to 400 m high is a gently undulating high plateau with a maximum height of 428 m, which slopes slightly from west to east.

The larger main island is preceded by a pyramidal, bare and rocky side island in the north , on which numerous seabirds breed.

Hatutu is one of the most rain-poor islands in the Marquesas. Nevertheless, there can be occasional heavy rain, but because of the closed plant cover, this does not result in such devastating erosion as on the neighboring island of Eiao. There are no open water points or rivers. After the rare rainfall, freshwater pools briefly form on the plateau, but they soon dry out.

Flora and fauna

Hatutu is the only undisturbed dry zone ecosystem in the Central Pacific. In contrast to the neighboring island of Eiao, there has never been damage to vegetation from abandoned European pets. The island, including the surrounding maritime area, has therefore been a nature reserve since July 28, 1971 and the Habitat / Species Management Area of the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) since August 14, 2000 .


From a distance, Hatutu appears bald and lifeless. When entering the island, however, you notice that the high plateau is covered by a closed, but climatically-related sparse and low-growing vegetation layer.

A large part of the high plateau is covered with clumps of the robust grass Leptochloa xerophila, which belongs to the sweet grasses . About a third of the land area is open scrubland with Cordia lutea , interspersed with individual Waltheria indica . In between there are small groves of low growing Thespesia subcordata and Pisonia grandis .

In the steep cliffs, collections of the grass Leptochloa xerophila and Portulaca lutea can be found in places .


Due to the lack of predators such as cats and rats, the island is a valuable refuge for rare and threatened bird species. There are four species of land birds:

  1. the reef freer Egreta sacra ,
  2. the moorhen Porzana tabuensis ,
  3. the marquesa pigeon Alopecoenas rubescens ,
  4. the reed warbler Acrocephalus percernis postremus , an endemic subspecies of the endangered Nuku-Hiva reed warbler.

In the steep cliffs, on the plateau and the offshore rocky side island, 21 species of sea birds have been observed, 19 of which also breed. These are:

  1. the frigate bird species Fregata minor and Fregata ariel , which breed in the small Pisonia and Thespesia groves of the high plateau,
  2. the tropical birds Phaeton rubricauda and Phaeton lepturus ,
  3. Shearwater of the species Puffinus pacificus , Puffinus bailloni and Puffinus nativitatis ,
  4. Boobies of the genus Sula : Sula sula , Sula dactylatra and Sula leucogaster ,
  5. Noddise terns of the species Anous stolidus and Anous minutus ,
  6. the fairy tern ( Gygis alba ).


The anthropologist Ralph Linton writes that there are no structures of Polynesian origin on the island. Hatutu was therefore never inhabited. However, Linton did not set foot on the island himself; he cites reports from the residents of Nuku Hiva . In 1988 botanists saw a few sparse remains of Polynesian stone structures, but these have not yet been archaeologically investigated. The age is not known, nor is it a question of whether there are traces of settlement or temporary stays by residents of the neighboring islands, for example to fish in the surrounding waters. The lack of drinking water sources stands in the way of permanent settlement.

On April 21, 1791, the American captain and long-distance trader Joseph Ingraham reached the islands of Eiao and Hatutu with his Brigantine Hope . However, he did not explore them closely and did not go ashore. He christened Hatutu "Hancock Island" after John Hancock , the governor of Massachusetts .

Just two months later, the Frenchman Étienne Marchand arrived with his merchant ship Solide off the island of Hatutu without knowing about the previous discovery of Ingrahams. He gave it the name "Île Chanal" after his officer Victor-Prospère Chanal. Marchand did not enter Hatutu either.

On the morning of June 6, 1798, the merchant ship Betsey reached Hatutu Island under the command of Edmund Fanning . Fanning did not go ashore either. He believed himself to be the first to discover the island and named the island "Nexsen" after the merchant Elias Nexsen from New York City , the owner of his ship.

Edward Robarts, crew member of the American whaling ship Euphrates from New Bedford , deserted in December 1798 and settled on Nuku Hiva. He called Hatutu "Langdon Island", but he probably never set foot on the island.

The Whitney South Sea Expedition, a privately funded research expedition aimed at collecting avian specimens for the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, reached Hatutu and the neighboring island of Eiao in 1922. However, the research results have only been partially published.

Botanists Steve Perlman and Ken Wood of the National Tropical Botanical Garden in Kauai, Hawaii visited six of the twelve Marquesas Islands in 1988, including Hatutu. They examined the island's flora, particularly with regard to possible environmental damage.


Politically, the uninhabited Hatutu belongs to the French Overseas Zealand ( Pays d'outre-mer - POM ) French Polynesia and to the commune associée Taiohae of the municipality of Nuku Hiva . Entering the island requires official permission, which is only given for scientific purposes. Hatutu is hardly accessible for tourists anyway, as there are no boat connections to it. Landing on the inaccessible cliffs is difficult and dangerous because of the heavy surf.

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Robert Langdon (ed.): American Whalers and Traders in the Pacific; Annex VI: A Gazetteer of Obsolete / Alternative Names of the Pacific Islands with their Current Equivalents. Australian National University, Canberra, 1978
  2. Valérie Clouard & Alain Bonneville: Ages of seamounts, islands and plateaus on the Pacific plate. In: Foulger, GR, Natland, JH, Presnall, DC, and Anderson, DL, (eds.): Plates, plumes, and paradigms. Geological Society of America Special Paper No. 388, p. 15
  3. BG Decker: U nique dry Iceland biota under official protection in northwestern Marquesas Islands (Iles Marquis). In: Biological Conservation , 5, 1973, pp. 66-67
  4. ^ A b Dieter Mueller-Dombois , F. Raymond Fosberg: Vegetation of the Tropical Pacific Islands. Springer-Verlag, New York-Berlin 1998, ISBN 0-387-98313-9 , p. 438
  5. ^ Jean Francoise Butaud, Frédéric A. Jacq: Flora and Vegetation on the Small Uninhabited Islands of the Marquesas Archipelago (French Polynesia): Relics of Dry Biota Threatened by Biological Invasions. In: Sébastien Larrue et al. (ed.): Biodiversity and Societies in the Pacific Islands. Publications de l'Université de Provence 2013, p. 146, ISBN 978-2853998772
  6. ^ Jean-Claude Thibault et al .: Breeding birds of Hatutaʻa, Marquesas Islands: species inventory and influence of drought on their abundance. British Ornithologists' Club Bulletin, Vol. 133 (3), London 2013
  7. ^ Ralph Linton: Archeology of the Marquesas Islands. Bernice P. Bishop Museum Bulletin 23, Honolulu 1923, p. 107
  8. Tahitiheritage archive link ( Memento of the original from March 18, 2014 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot / www.tahitiheritage.pf
  9. ^ Andrew Sharp: The Discovery of the Pacific Islands. Clarendon Press, Oxford 1962, p. 167
  10. Étienne Marchand & Charles Pierre Claret de Fleurieu: Voyage autour du monde, pendant les années 1790, 1791 et 1792 (Volume V). Imprimerie de la Republique, Paris 1798/99
  11. ^ Edmund Fanning: Voyages Round the World. O. Rich, London 1834, p. 217
  12. ^ Adam Johann von Krusenstern : Journey around the world in the years 1803, 1804, 1805, 1806 (Volume 1). Haude and Spener, Berlin 1811
  13. ^ Greg Denning (ed.): The Marquesan Journal of Edward Robarts 1797-1824, University of Hawaii Press, Honolulu 1974