The Pacific island nation of Kiribati is one of our homeschool countries-of-the-week, so why not spend a few minutes today learning about Kiribati’s only World Heritage Site: the Phoenix Islands Protected Area.
Halfway between Hawaii and Australia in the Pacific Ocean, the Phoenix Islands Protected Area is the largest oceanic sanctuary in the world:
As a vast expanse of largely pristine mid-ocean environment, replete with a suite of largely intact uninhabited atolls, truly an oceanic wilderness, the Phoenix Islands Protected Area (408,250 sq km), the largest marine protected area in the Pacific, is globally exceptional and as such is a superlative natural phenomenon of global importance.
Phoenix Islands Protected Area contains an outstanding collection of large submerged volcanoes, presumed extinct, rising direct from the extensive deep sea floor with an average depth of more than 4,500 metres and a maximum depth of over 6,000 metres. Included are no less than 14 recognised seamounts, submerged mountains that don’t penetrate to the surface. The collection of atolls and reef islands represent coral reef capping on 8 other volcanic mountains that approach the surface. The large bathymetric range of the submerged seamount landscape provides depth defined habitat types fully representative of Pacific mid-oceanic biota.
Due to its great isolation, Phoenix Islands Protected Area occupies a unique position in the biogeography of the Pacific as a critical stepping stone habitat for migratory and pelagic/planktonic species and for ocean currents in the region. Phoenix Islands Protected Area embraces the full range of marine environments in this area and displays high levels of marine abundance as well as the full spectrum of age and size cohorts, increasingly rare in the tropics, and especially in the case of apex predator sharks, fish, sea turtles, sea birds, corals, giant clams, and coconut crabs, many of which have been depleted elsewhere. The overall marine tropic dynamics for these island communities across this archipelago are better functioning (relatively intact) compared with other island systems where human habitation and exploitation has significantly altered the environment. The complete representation of ocean and island environments and their connectivity, remoteness, and naturalness are important attributes which contribute to the outstanding universal value. (World Heritage Centre #1325)
The Phoenix Islands Protected Area is approximately the size of the state of California but it includes less than ten square miles of dry land: a collection of coral atolls that support substantial colonies of seabirds.
World Heritage Sites are cultural or natural landmarks of international significance, selected by their home countries and recognized by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization. More than a thousand such sites have been designated in over 160 countries, and we feature one every Wednesday, drawn from one of our homeschool countries-of-the-week. You can find a complete list of World Heritage Sites online at the World Heritage Centre’s website and in Wikipedia.
The World Heritage Centre also has a free and comprehensive World Heritage education kit for teachers, as well as a wonderful full-color wall map of World Heritage Sites, available for the cost of shipping. Why not add them both to your own homeschool library. 🗺
What world treasures have you and your students explored in your homeschool this Orion Term? 🇰🇮
❡ The great globe itself: This is one of our regular Homeschool Geography posts featuring cultural and natural sites of international importance. Print your own copy of our River Houses World Heritage Calendar and follow along with us as we tour the planet, and add your name to our weekly mailing list to get great homeschool teaching ideas delivered right to your mailbox all through the year. 🌐
❡ Print this little lesson: Down at the bottom of this post you'll find a special "Print" button that will let you create a neat and easy-to-read copy of this little lesson, and it will even let you edit and delete sections you don't want or need (such as individual images or footnotes). Give it a try today! 🖨
❡ Books in the running brooks: You can always turn to your River Houses almanac, atlas, and history encyclopedia for more information about any of our countries-of-the-week. The almanac has a lengthy section with detailed profiles of all the nations of the world; the endpapers of the atlas are indexes that will show you where all of the individual national and regional maps may be found; the history encyclopedia has a comprehensive collection of national histories in an appendix; and you can find additional illustrations, flags, and other mentions through the indexes in each of these volumes. For an ideal little lesson, just write the name of the Weekly World Heritage Site on your homeschool bulletin board, find its location in your atlas, read the WHC's brief description aloud, look at a picture or two, and you're done. Over the course of the year, without even realizing it, your students will absorb a wealth of new historical, geographical, and cultural information. 📚
❡ Homeschool calendars: We have a whole collection of free, printable, educational homeschool calendars and planners available on our main River Houses calendar page. They will help you create a light and easy structure for your homeschool year. Give them a try today! 🗓
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❡ Join us! The aim of the River Houses project is to create a network of friendly local homeschool support groups — local chapters that we call “Houses.” Our first at-large chapter, Headwaters House, is now forming and is open to homeschoolers everywhere. Find out how to become one of our founding members on the Headwaters House membership page. 🏡