Fed States of Micronesia
Gaferut is a small and slightly crescent-shaped uninhabited island in the northern Caroline Islands. Both the reef-flat and the island have the same shape with a maximum dimension of 1.1 by 0.6 kilometers of reef-flat and 660 by 230 meters of the island above the water. Only one narrow passage on the western side can be used at high tide. The sandy beach on the northern side shows turtle tracks and the air is filled with hundreds of Great Frigatebirds, Sooty Terns and White Terns as well as Red-footed and Brown Boobies. The Great Frigatebirds and coconut crabs are sacred to the visiting Micronesian and coconut crabs are not allowed to be eaten.
Almost exactly 800 kilometers due east of Yap, the island was an important provision and resting stop for Micronesian ocean-going canoes coming from Woleai, Ifalik, Lamotrek or Satawal heading north for Guam or Saipan. To the Micronesians, the island was Faiau or Fayo (“stone” or “rock” in the language of Woleai, 265 kilometers to the southwest) and phosphate was discovered in the early 20th century by Germans and extracted by the Japanese in the mid-1930s. Today only a depression and clearing in the southern part of the island shows where the mining had taken place. The presence of phosphate has led to the belief Pisonia grandis trees existed at one time, while today Gaferut is almost entirely covered with tree heliotropes and just a handful of coconut palm trees on the western side.