NASA picture of Pukarua Atoll
|Area||23 km2 (8.9 sq mi) (lagoon)|
7 km2 (3 sq mi) (above water)
|Length||17 km (10.6 mi)|
|Width||4.5 km (2.8 mi)|
|Overseas collectivity||French Polynesia|
Pukarua Atoll is 17 km long and its maximum width is 4.5 km. It has a long island on its northeastern reef, shaped somewhat like a fish hook, as well as a number of small islands. The atoll is surrounded by a coral reef without a proper passage. There is a pier from which small to medium-sized ships can be launched.
The only village is Marautagaroa, populated by about 100 inhabitants.
Pukarua Atoll was first visited by Europeans in 1797, when British mariner James Wilson was sailing from Tongatapu to the Marquesas on the ship Duff. He found Pukarua uninhabited, but saw the tokens of former occupancy. Wilson named Pukarua "Searle Island" after a friend he had in the Transport office in England.
Thirty years later another British explorer, Frederick Beechey, found Pukarua inhabited by Polynesians.