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|See also: Malden Atoll, Christmas Island|
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Kiritimati (Christmas Island)
Position of center of photo (Lat/Long): [1.90605/-157.42651]
Geologically, the oldest atoll in the world's oceans is Kiritimati (Christmas Island, Kiribati), lying just north of the equator in the Line Islands. Aboard the Discovery, the astronauts had one of the best views ever of Christmas Island, the old atoll more often than not being covered with towering cumulus clouds. The lagoon is nearly completely filled by coral growth. Only a shallow entrance exists on the northwest end, an entrance that is so small that supply ships during World War II lay offshore and unloaded supplies on a lighter to get them ashore. Coconut groves abound throughout the old lagoon; on the southern tip, where the Gilbert Islanders live.
Pronounced "Ki-ris-mas", Kiritimati Island has a large infilled lagoon that gives it the largest land area (125 square miles, 321 square km) of any atoll in the world. Captain Cook named the atoll Christmas Island when he arrived on Christmas Eve in 1777. Used for nuclear testing in the 1950s and 1960s, the island is now valued for its marine and wildlife resources. It is particularly important as a seabird nesting site - with an estimated 6 million birds using or breeding on the island, including several million Sooty Terns. Rainfall on Kiritimati is linked to El Niņo patterns, with long droughts experienced between the wetter El Niņo years.
|Source of material: NASA|
Further information: WikiPedia article on Kiritimati (Christmas Island)