Flagler Island: An Artificial Island As Monument

The Flagler Memorial Island is an artificial island that was built in 1920 along with the other Venetian Islands of Miami and Miami Beach, Florida, complete with a monument visible from the Flamingo Hotel in Miami Beach. A 110-foot (34 m) high obelisk with allegorical sculptures at its base stands as a monument to Miami pioneer Henry M. Flagler, and was built in the center of the freshly-constructed island in memory of Flagler, who died in 1913.

Unlike the other Venetian Islands, the perfectly rounded shape of the memorial island was not protected by a sea wall. The powerful tidal flow from Government Cut, as well as hurricanes and other forces, have drastically altered its original shape. Exotic species such as Burma reed (Neyraudia reynaudiana), seaside-mahoe (Thespesia populnea) and beach naupaka (Scaevola taccada) have covered much of the island. In 1994 the Biscayne Bay Environmental Enhancement Trust Fund and the Florida Inland Navigation District used a $220,000 bond to build a clearing in the center of the island near the monument, where visitors play volleyball and light bonfires. The project also stabilized the shoreline with the installation of lime rock boulders, and created sand beaches and dunes for boaters to enjoy. Hurricane Wilma eroded away much of the beaches in the fall of 2005, leaving many of the picnic tables partially submerged.

Miami-Dade County maintains the island, including modest picnic facilities and trash cans, and is considering issuing a $250,000 bond to correct the monument's serious disrepair due to its exposure to harsh marine elements, vandalism and years of deferred maintenance.

Although the island is unpopulated, it is considered a neighborhood in the City of Miami Beach.


Bahrain Business Bay Master Plan and Four Seasons Hotel, Manama, Bahrain

Bahrain Business Bay Master Plan and Four Seasons Hotel,
Manama, Bahrain Schematic design to construction of $2.5 billion, 2 million cubic square meter reclaimed artificial island development for 25,000 residents, including design of Four Seasons tower with Skidmore Owings and Merrill, LLP, New York

Designer: Annie Kwon:

The Clipperton Project

Media Release
February 2011

The Clipperton Project
7 international artists, 7 international scientists, 1 expedition to an
astonishing, abandoned island in the Pacific with a strange history and unique biosphere.

Situated around 800 miles west of Acapulco, Clipperton (or as the French style it, Ile de la Passion) is an abandoned island with a strange history, a unique biosphere and an obscure lagoon filled with ancient marine life. Later this year an expedition of 7 international artists and 7 international scientists will set sail from the West coast of Mexico on a 3-week expedition to the island. The participants will produce work based on the history of the atoll (specifically Mexico’s “damned” colony of 1917) and its ecological, geological and human history in order to create a cross-cultural portrayal of this unique place. The work produced will then be shown at scientific and cultural institutions across Europe and the Americas, including Glasgow Sculpture Studios (Glasgow, Scotland), Universum (Mexico City, Mexico) and Institute of the Americas (London, England).

Unveiling details of the project at Glasgow Sculpture Studios, Expedition Leader, Jonathan Bonfiglio, said:

“I’d heard about this strange island of Clipperton a few years ago and it soon became clear that it could offer a very interesting jumping off point for discussing many different topics of importance to contemporary society.”

“The idea of an international arts science expedition came about as offering a way to explore areas such as global warming and environmental issues through cross cultural dialogue. By linking these two broad areas of endeavour it would bring something new to the fore and hopefully reach new audiences.”

“There are so many aspects of Clipperton that are fascinating for me as an artist from its strange history to its unique biology,” says British sculptor, Charles Engebretsen, who is one of only seven international artists to be taking part in the expedition. “I have collaborated with many artists in different environments, but not had close interactions with scientists before,” he adds. “The opportunity to work with the oceanographers, biologists and medical scientists will inform my practice, and the chance to display the work we make in scientific establishments as well as art galleries is particularly exciting as it will hopefully break down the perceived barriers between art and science.”

“We are thrilled to be a partner in the Clipperton Project which will see the artists and scientists not only bring their unique perspectives to issues of importance to contemporary society, but enable some fruitful dialogues to be set up between the two fields,” says Amy Sales, Programme Development Manager at Glasgow Sculpture Studios. “We know that many of the participants already have some ideas about the topics of interest for their research, but we are sure other exciting things will emerge once the group arrives at the island which will lead to an important body of research and intriguing artworks to be shown across Europe and the Americas in 2012. “

The 7 artists taking part in the expedition are expedition leader, writer
Jonathan Bonfiglio; Mexican photographer Naim “El Libanes” Rahal Manzanilla; Norwegian Dancer/choreographer, Mia Habib; British filmmaker, John Dickie; British designer/visual artist Nicola Dobrowolski; Mexican Writer, Jimena Gorráez Belmar and British Sculptor, Charles Engebretsen. The scientists taking part in the expedition are experts in the fields of Environmental Geoscience, Oceanography, Biomedicine Hydrogeology, Biology, Medical Investigation, Industrial Engineering, Molecular Biology and Genomics.

Further information on the Clipperton Project can be found at:


Notes for Editors

Clipperton (Ile de la Passion)


The island of Clipperton has had an incredible history, from rumours of hidden treasure left by the British pirate John Clipperton, to the struggles between Mexico and France over its ownership (including the horrific and tragic events there in 1917) in the early twentieth century to the little known fact that President Roosevelt visited there twice during the Second World War with a view to establishing it as a military base for the United States. Today Clipperton is a French territory and provides us with one of the most isolated ecosystems in the world, one which might reveal not only the extent of current climate change through study of its coral reefs but also a place in which a consistently invaded body of water in the lagoon somehow remains drinkable, a factor of major interest to participating scientists.

The Island

Apart from the forgotten Mexican colony that inhabited the island at the start of the last century, Clipperton has seen very few humans in its history, and even the small number who have recently visited have failed to provide wholly accurate documentation of what the island holds. Some accounts talk of the substantial problem provided by rats – now the apex predator on the island - left over from sinking ships; others describe the coral reefs around the atoll as making access to the island almost impossible; still others disagree about how long it takes to walk around the entire island (accounts vary from 2 to 7 hours).

All in all, this means that it is very difficult to know what will be found on arrival at the island, although little shelter and plenty of poisonous orange crabs are a certainty. Clipperton Island may look like paradise from a distance, but close up it is a unique hybrid of an ecosystem in which odd creatures have somehow managed to survive alone at the ends of the earth.

At an average height of 3 metres above sea level, with rising sea levels Clipperton Atoll will soon no longer exist. This is not just an island which will disappear forever, but all manner of highly evolved and unique bacteria, fungi and algae from the lagoon, and along with them all the genetic make-up which has allowed them to survive in such a hostile environment. It is estimated that only 10% of species on earth have been genetically documented, and species that inhabit the outer, more extreme reaches of the planet are more genetically unique than those found in the more common usual environments. This means that they must be studied now before that genetic information – a genetic information which harbours the strongest survival instincts and abilities at its core – is lost forever.

With the relatively new field of metagenomics, preservation of the genetic material allows the identification of biodiversity of microscopic species and of bioprospecting (which refers to the finding of new genes, enzymes and proteins). This is a field of massive growth and interest for universities, organisations and drug companies focusing on medical investigations, as these are currently leading to previously unthought breakthroughs in biotechnological and medical science.

The Coral Reefs

The oceans – the lungs of the earth - are becoming increasingly acidic, meaning that organisms within these vast fields of life are finding it harder and harder to reproduce and regenerate, thus radically altering what used to be a perfectly balanced ecosystem. The coral reefs around Clipperton were once pristine, and even though reports suggest that they have suffered from man’s influence – even here on one of the most isolated islands on earth – studies undertaken even in a few days will reveal how their capacity to regenerate has been affected by reduced ocean salinity.

The Lagoon

Despite regular saltwater incursions, Clipperton’s lagoon somehow remains freshwater and drinkable, and is therefore one of the most important centres of investigation for the Clipperton Project, which will be collecting samples from all areas and depths in the lagoon, with these being refrigerated and delivered to the Institutes of Biotechnology and Genomic Science at the National Autonomous University of Mexico and the University of Morelos, where the samples will be isolated, catalogued and studied.

Lesley Booth
New Century PR
Tel: +44 (0)141 649 9621/+ 44 (0)20 8677 6741
Mobile: +44 (0)779 941 4474

Recent/Current projects include:
Bard in the Botanics Festival; British Art Show 7 (Glasgow); Critics Awards for Theatre in Scotland; Cultural Enterprise Office; Deveron Arts; Edinburgh Art Festival, Finefunds; Glasgow Sculpture Studios; Old Royal Naval College, Greenwich; Scottish Flute Trio; Scottish Youth Theatre; sound Festival of New Music; Stavanger - Cultural Capital of Europe; Vanishing Point Theatre Company; Y-dance.

Source: Oliver Basciano

CNN Reporter Johnny Colt Visits Nauru: Little Island of Big Stories

Please join me in a series of iReports about a place that I hope you will find as fascinating as I do.

Let me introduce you to the island nation of Nauru, the world’s smallest independent sovereign Republic. When I say this raised, fossilized atoll is small, I mean small. This country boasts a population of roughly 10,500 people. Maximum. The manager of the country’s one television channel (NTV – Nauru Television) claims that most people in Nauru know everyone on the island. To get a real feel for how small Nauru is, let’s look at it this way: Nauru’s landmass is 21 square kilometers in total. If you drive at the island’s top speed of 25 mph, you can circle the island in about 20 minutes. When they say Nauru is remote, it is hours by plane to the next landmass of any real size. It took me two full days and four planes to reach Nauru from Atlanta.

If the world were flat, the last stop before you fell off would be Nauru. Equal parts Pacific beauty, gritty industrial complex, native people in no hurry and Ian Fleming-style mystery all add up to create a story you just couldn’t make up. The cast of characters I met on this remote island are the stuff of timeless novels.

Nauru is infamous on the world stage. The country has been at the center of much controversy. Offshore banking scandals; supposedly, the world’s highest obesity rates per capita; the site of a controversial detention center for Australia’s unwanted asylum-seekers and let’s not forget the U.S.-led Operation Weasel. Operation Weasel, you ask? That operation was a program where the U.S. Government paid Nauru to use the Nauruan Embassy in North Korea to help smuggle out defecting North Korean scientists. Does that come with one of those James Bond gadgets, like a fountain pen that shoots lethal darts?

Nauru, however, is best known for phosphate. After World War I, Britain, Australia and New Zealand administered Nauru. For six decades, Nauru’s foreign administers strip-mined the island–taking the phosphate and leaving two-thirds of the island uninhabitable. Found guilty for devastating the land through inappropriate mining, Nauru’s administrators had to turn over the keys to the phosphate ATM as well as give Nauru its independence in 1968. The Nauruans continued to mine the island as their predecessors had done. The phosphate boom continued and briefly made the islanders the wealthiest people per capita in the world. The phosphate mining eventually slowed down. According to Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, phosphate production went from 1.67 million tons in the late 1980‘s to having ceased, altogether, by 2003. Phosphate production is currently up and running, again, as I would soon see for myself. But, I am getting ahead of the story. Out of control spending, bad investments and outright theft left Nauru destitute. Nauru fought to have it all, only to lose everything they earned in one generation. It is a remarkable story of excess, corruption, international manipulation and a community of natives coming of age. An island gold rush for a mineral principally used as fertilizer. In all my research about Nauru, I only found two quotes from actual Nauruans (that were not politicians.) Why do we hear so little in these reports from the everyday Nauruans? So much has been said about this notorious country–most of it negative. Some of that press is so negative that it feels a little like journalistic bullies picking on a school kid of a story. Information about Nauru is difficult to get. From a statistics standpoint, small populations can be tricky to track correctly. Because of these issues, reporting on Nauru is suspect to questionable sourcing. The basic theme of most reporting on Nauru is as follows: The island, after using up its resources and income, is now a hard luck case living on government handouts. Australia will spend 26.6 million dollars worth of aid to Nauru in 2010-2011. Sounds hard luck to me. I can not help thinking that, on the other hand, had the country’s original Aussie administrators rehabbed the land as they mined it in the first place, maybe they wouldn’t be writing all these checks, today.

While researching Nauru’s crazy history, I found something that–for me–painted a very different picture of the islanders’ character than I was being told in my “off the record phone calls” with Australian officials. During World War II, the Japanese occupied Nauru. It is well documented how brutal the Japanese military were to the islands of the Pacific. Nauru was no exception. The Japanese deported many Nauruans to work as slave labor in the Chuuk Islands. The ones who survived life under the Japanese on the Chuuk Islands were repatriated back to Nauru after the war’s end. The Nauruans had narrowly escaped the destruction of their culture at the hands of the occupying force. This historical event is celebrated by Nauru on the 26th of October and is known as Angam Day or “homecoming.” It’s clear that Nauru and its people have massive challenges ahead of them. Whether it is the environmental issues left by the dirty business of mining, the economic crisis of Nauru’s massive debt structure or the fact that Nauru’s location gives the island a front row seat for the impact of global warming, this country is a frontrunner for the problems that all nations are facing. Limited natural resources, consumption and overspending combined with global warming are the legacy being left for future generations all over the globe. If the people of Nauru had the character and sheer strength of will to survive the Japanese occupation, then there may be a good chance that they can handle the trifecta of doom staring down the barrel at these people. Any way you slice it, Nauru is a long shot. But, then again, I am always a sucker for a Cinderella story.

I called my bookie and, against his advice, placed my bet on Nauru. I am boarding a plane for this faraway nation–this 30-to-1 long shot, this butt-of-the-Pacific joke–to find out just what the Hell is going on halfway around the world.

Johnny Colt
© Johnny Colt. All Rights Reserved

Watch Johnny Colt's Video Reports while in Nauru from CNN iReport:

NAURU: trains, planes and more planes – episode 1 | JOHNNY COLT

NAURU: trains, planes and more planes – episode 1 | JOHNNY COLT

NAURU: Phosphate and bombs – episode 2 | JOHNNY COLT

NAURU: Phosphate and bombs – episode 2 | JOHNNY COLT

NAURU: A day at the track – episode 3 | JOHNNY COLT

NAURU: A day at the track – episode 3 | JOHNNY COLT