Mohotane, also Mohotani, Moho Tani, Motane, rare Molopu, old names: San Pedro, Onateayo, is an uninhabited island in the eastern Pacific Ocean, which geographically belongs to the archipelago of the Marquesas and politically to the municipality of Hiva Oa in French Polynesia.

Geography and Geology

Mohotane is located in the southern group of the Marquesas, 18 km southeast of Hiva Oa and is to be seen from there on a clear day. The 7.2 x 1.9 km wide island has an area of approximately 13 km ². The half- moon shape opening to the east suggests that it is the remnant of the crater rim of a sunken volcano. The basaltic rocks from which Mohotane consists mostly are from 2.46 to 1.76 Mio. years old.

The island is completely surrounded by a cliff, the 300 to 400 m drops almost vertically to the south and southwest. In the east, the coast rises more gently. Beaches there is not. Almost the entire west is occupied by a plateau that drops directly to the sea. The highest elevation of 520 m is nameless and is located in the southern third of the island.

Barely 300 meters to the southwest, the 245 m high and 15 -acre addition to the island Terihi is upstream, no more than a steep projecting out of the sea, barren rock.

Mohotane located in the tropical climate zone. Since the island - like Eiao - compared to the other Marquesas is relatively low, they can benefit from the moisture -bearing trade winds only slightly. Rainfall is relatively low with an average of 500 mm per year. Although you can see in several places of the coast narrow and steep Schuchten that are obviously flushed from occasional heavy rain, there is no continuously flowing waters.

Flora and Fauna

Mohotane is placed under protection since 1971 (Commission des sites de la Polynésie française, Regulation no. 2559 of 28 July 1971). Hunting is regulated and requires a license, but the remote island is also visited without permission. In addition, illegal felling trees to gain carving wood for the souvenir industry. There is still a lack of effective management and monitoring of the protection zone.

From French settlers of Hiva Oa introduced in the second half of the 19th century sheep have reintroduced and cause erosion by graze the low vegetation.


Mohotane can be divided into three vegetation zones: the east is arid in a wide belt, the north is very sparse and the central part of the island is covered by a dense, largely pristine forest.

The entire east is arid by the animal bites, the vegetation is sparse. In favorable areas, which belongs to the tobacco plant Nicotiana fragrans var fatuhivensis grow, endemic to Fatu Hiva and Mohotane, purslane ( Portulaca oleracea ) and the grasses Eragrostis xerophila and Brachiaria reptans.

The northern part of the island is also greatly damaged by grazing. The evergreen shrub Arbutilon hirtum, Cordia lutea and Waltheria tomentosa occur as low growth forms. In the few places that are not accessible for the animals, grow Pisonia grandis, Premna tahitensis and Morinda citrifolia.

The central plateau to the west is covered by a dense forest area, which covers about a quarter of the island. It consists of huge Pisonia grandis, often reaching a height of 30 to 40 m. Other frequently occurring trees are Cordia subcordata, Thespesia populnea, Hibiscus tiliaceus, tectorius Pandanus, Ficus marcuesensis, Casuarina equisetifolia and in between sporadic coconut trees.


There are only two species of mammals before, both of which are not indigenous: the Pacific rat, probably introduced by Polynesians as a food animal, and sheep, the Europeans have settled in the 19th century.

On Mohotane were ten species of sea birds and seven species of land birds, two of them endemic, observed:

In the large Pisonia trees frigate birds nest. Other seabirds occurring on Mohotane and Terihi include the Noddiseeschwalbe ( Anous stolidus ), the Sooty Tern (Sterna fuscata ) and the Fairy Tern ( Gygis alba).

Among the land birds are the Marquesas Monarch, in the variation Pomarea mendozae montanensis, and Acrocephalus caffer consobrinus, a subspecies of the Long -billed warbler, endemic. Other rare and endangered species are the Marquesas reed warbler (Acrocephalus mendanae ), the Marquesassalangane ( Aerodramus ocistus ) and the Petit- Thouars pigeon ( Ptilinopus dupetithouarsii ).


Mohotane is now uninhabited, there are clear archaeological evidence that suggests a permanent Polynesian settlement. The American anthropologist Ralph Linton (1893 - 1953) has located the remains of a village. Thor Heyerdahl was on a short tour in 1938 in the arid east of the island several stone house platforms ( paepae ). The island was once inhabited by a single clan named " Moi Atiu ", a side line of a strain of Hiva Oa.

Mohotane in 1595 discovered by the Spanish navigator Alvaro de Mendaña de Neyra, on his second voyage to Europe. He did not enter the island, but they christened " San Pedro " after St. Simon Peter, and on the basis of the name of his Captain Pedro Fernandez de Quirós. Mendana describes it as " having a lot of forest covered" and could see no signs of inhabitants.

James Cook went through during his second voyage to the Pacific on April 7, 1774 the sound between the islands of Hiva Oa and Mohotane, but without entering Mohotane. He describes the island as follows:

" St. Pedro [ Mohotane ] is quite high, but not mountainous and has about 3 Leagues extent. [ The island ] is 4 ½ leagues south of the eastern tip of La Dominica [ Hiva Oa ] and we do not do not know whether it is inhabited or, most likely, however, since it does not seem that nature had equipped them with all the people need. "

On the sketch map of William Wales, astronomer on board the Resolution, Mohotane is located with the name " Onateayo ", probably the name that was given him by the inhabitants of the island of Hiva Oa.


Jules Verne compares in his 1895 novel, " The Propeller Island" the Marquesas archipelago with a squadron of French warships:

"The biggest would be the first-class ships" Nuka- Hiva "and" Hiva Oa "; the middle the cruisers of various ranks " Hiaou ", " Uapou " and " Uauka "; the smallest finally Avisos " Motane ", " Fatou - Hiva " and " Taou -Ata ", while the islands and atolls simple pinnaces and boats would be - only that all are not movable. "