Tobi Island, or Hatohobei (Tobian language
Tobian language
Tobian is the language of Tobi, one of the Southwest Islands of Palau, and the main island of Hatohobei state...

), is the southernmost of Palau
Palau , officially the Republic of Palau , is an island nation in the Pacific Ocean, east of the Philippines and south of Tokyo. In 1978, after three decades as being part of the United Nations trusteeship, Palau chose independence instead of becoming part of the Federated States of Micronesia, a...

's sixteen states
States of Palau
Palau is divided into sixteen administrative regions, called states .-External links:**...

, consisting of Tobi Island and uninhabited Helen Reef. The total land area is about 0.88 km². The population was 80 in 1962, 51 in 1995, and 23 in 2000, showing a steady decline over time, but 44 in 2005, showing a population rebound.
Tobian language
Tobian is the language of Tobi, one of the Southwest Islands of Palau, and the main island of Hatohobei state...

, English
English language
English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

 and Sonsorolese language
Sonsorolese language
The Sonsorolese language is a Micronesian language spoken in Palau, originally on the islands composing the state of Sonsorol, but nowadays mostly by immigrants in the rest of the country...

 are the official languages of Hatohobei state.

The individual islands of Hatohobei, together with the islands of the state of Sonsorol
Sonsorol is one of the sixteen states of Palau. The administrative center is Dongosaru on Sonsorol island. The inhabitants speak Sonsorolese, a local Trukic language, and Palauan....

, form the Southwest Islands
Southwest Islands (Palau)
The Southwest Islands of Palau are several small islands spread across the Pacific Ocean, about 600 km from the main island chain of Palau. The nearshore islands to the southwest of the main island of Palau , which belong to the states of Koror, Peleliu and Angaur and to the unincorporated Rock...

 of Palau.
No. Island Village Area
est. 2000
1 Tobi
Tobi (island)
Tobi is an island in the Palauan state of Hatohobei. With a population of about 30, it holds all of the state's people, with the exception of a weather base on another island. Most of the inhabitants live on the island's west side and speak Tobian...

Hatohobei 0.85 20 03°00′22"N 131°07′26"E
2 Helen Reef (Hotsarihie) marine ranger station 0.03 3 03°00′N 131°11′E
3 Transit Reef (Pieraurou) - - - 02°47′N 132°32′E
State of Hatohobei Hatohobei 0.88 23  

Tobi Island

Tobi (Hatohobei or Kodgubi) Island is the only inhabited island of the state (not counting the permanently manned Marine Ranger Station on the second island, Helen Island). The land area is 0.60 km². Its highest point is 6 m, while most of the island is less than 3 m high. Most of the houses are situated in the village of Tobi (Hatohobei) on the southwestern side of the island, the state capital. The island is covered with coconut palms. A cultivated area is situated near the center of the island. The island is fringed by a reef that extends up to 800 m from the shore in the north.

Helen Reef

Helen or Helens Reef (Hotsarihie), about 70 km east of Tobi Island, is a largely submerged atoll
An atoll is a coral island that encircles a lagoon partially or completely.- Usage :The word atoll comes from the Dhivehi word atholhu OED...

, with just one islet (Helen Island). The atoll is 25 km long and nearly 10 km wide, with a lagoon
A lagoon is a body of shallow sea water or brackish water separated from the sea by some form of barrier. The EU's habitat directive defines lagoons as "expanses of shallow coastal salt water, of varying salinity or water volume, wholly or partially separated from the sea by sand banks or shingle,...

 area of 103 km² and a total area including reef flat of 163 km². A channel leads into the lagoon from near the middle of the western side of the reef. Immediately south of the channel is Round Rock, which dries. The lagoon has about 85 patch and pinnacle Reefs.

When the tide is falling, the water flows out of the lagoon and over the reef in all directions until the reef is uncovered, and then flows out through the channel on the western side. On the rising tide, a reverse effect is noted. Only few parts of the reef completely dry.

Helen Island, the only island of the reef, is located near its northern tip. It is tiny in comparison to Helen Reef, about 20 to 40 m wide and 400 m long, or about 0.03 km² of land area. The densely wooded island sits atop a sand dune, which is 0.25 km² in extent and which is moving southeast, falling into the lagoon, at a rate 3 to 4 m per year. The island is uninhabited except for a marine ranger
Park ranger
A park ranger or forest ranger is a person entrusted with protecting and preserving parklands – national, state, provincial, or local parks. Different countries use different names for the position. Ranger is the favored term in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom. Within the United...

 station of Hatohobei State, which was established in the early 1990s on the eastern side of the island, to guard the reef against foreign poachers. The station is permanently occupied by a staff of three.

Transit Reef

50 km east of Helen Reef is Transit Reef (Pieraurou), which appears on some maps and which is referenced as an island in the Hatohobei State constitution and constitutes the southermost feature of Palau. Its existence
Phantom island
Phantom islands are islands that were believed to exist, and appeared on maps for a period of time during recorded history, but were later removed after they were proved to be nonexistent...

, however, is doubtful, as it is not listed in the current Sailing Directions. The literal translation of its Tobian
Tobian language
Tobian is the language of Tobi, one of the Southwest Islands of Palau, and the main island of Hatohobei state...

 name Pieraurou is "Sandy Navigation Point", referring to a submerged sand bar rather than a reef or island.

External links

  • Seacology Helen Reef Project Seacology
    Seacology is a nonprofit 501 charitable organization headquartered in Berkeley, California that focuses on preserving island ecosystems and cultures around the globe. Founded in 1991, it began with the work of ethnobotanist Paul Alan Cox, who researched tropical plants and their medicinal value in...

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