Minerva Reefs

The Minerva Reefs ( tong.: Ongo Teleki, old name: Nicholson's Shoal, English Minerva Reefs ) are two atoll -like coral reefs in the southern Pacific Ocean, belonging to Tonga. The Minerva reefs should not be confused with the Minerve Reef (French Recif de la Minerve ), an underwater formation in the Tuamotu Archipelago.


The Minerva Reefs are located 500 km south-west of Tongatapu ( Tonga ), 200 km southwest of the southernmost ( and at the same time the westernmost ) Tonga Island ' Ata and about 300 km south of Ono- i- Lau (Fiji). The reefs form the southernmost and westernmost simultaneously to Tonga dependent territories. Your name received the reefs from the whaler Minerva, who was stranded on the southern reef in 1829. The reefs lie at opposite ends of a submarine plateaus with depths of 550-1100 meters, which extends over a length of 45 km.

The Minerva reefs are atolls in the development process and have been raised by one meter since 1916. The highest points of the fringing reef protrude at mean tidal range is already out of the sea, the reefs are still mostly only at high water below the water surface. However, the atolls have not (yet) Islands. The two reefs are about 30 kilometers apart. The North Minerva Reef (at 23 ° 38 ' S, 178 ° 55' W 23.633333333333 178.91666666667 - ) has a slightly elliptical shape with a diameter of about 5 km, the South Minerva Reef (at 23 ° 56 ' S, 179 ° 8 ' W 23.933333333333 - 179.13333333333 ) has two directly abutting reefs in the form of an "8 " on. Since the atolls are awash at high tide, there is no terrestrial vegetation, but they are a resting place for numerous seabirds.

The northern reef forms to a single passage in the northwest a closed ring. The deep and 300 meters wide passage allows vessels to retract into the lagoon and anchor there in 27 feet of water on a sandy bottom.

The southern reef is a double atoll with two lagoons. It extends over a total length of 7.7 km. On the west side there are large coral heads that rise almost one meter above the sea level. It is suitable for a shallow passage (only in the northern lagoon ) and because of the numerous coral heads less than anchorage. On the west side is north of the interface of the two parts Atoll in the Herald Bight a protected mooring at depths of 18-37 meters.


The name Minerva reefs were the two coral formations of Captain Henry Mangles Denham of the research vessel HMS Herald. Denham explored and mapped the reefs in 1854. He named it after the whaler Minerva, the morning ran aground on September 9, 1829 at 02.00 clock on the southern reef and sank. Fifteen men managed to escape with a completely overloaded dinghy to the island Vatoa.

Since their discovery, numerous ships crashed on the reefs, including the Tuaikaepau that ran aground on July 7, 1962 South Minerva. The crew had to wait in squalid conditions for three months to help, several people died. In the headlines the reefs came again in 1972, when there the Republic of Minerva, a micro nation, was proclaimed. The Republic lasted only a few months, until the Kingdom of Tonga occupied the reefs.

That Tonga lays claim to the Minerva Reefs, was indeed in September 1972 officially recognized by the South Pacific Forum, Fiji, however, raises further claim. Tonga is called the reefs Ongo Teleki (Minerva Reefs ), Teleki Tokelau (northern reef ) and Teleki Tonga (southern reef ). A former temporary occupation took place during World War 2 by the U.S. Navy. They built two now dilapidated lighthouses.