Farallon de Medinilla

[ Bathymetry | Backscatter | Optical Validation | Geomorphology ]

Farallon de Medinilla (FDM) is a small island in the Northern Mariana Islands chain and is situated 45 nautical miles (83 km; 52 mi) north of Saipan. It is the second smallest in the chain; only Zealandia Bank is smaller. It is an uninhabited coral island which is 0.845 km² (0.326 sq mi, or 208.9 acres) in area. It is 2.8 km long from southwest to northeast. The southern part is up to 150 meters wide, and the northern part up to 520 meters. At its narrowest, where the northern and southern parts join, the island is only about 20 meters wide. Its highest elevation is 81 meters. The shores are rimmed with cliffs containing caves and its tableland has some brush and savanna grass. Politically, it is part of the Northern Islands Municipality.

For years, the U.S.Navy has used Farallon de Medinilla for military and bombing exercises. In a 2002 lawsuit, the Center for Biological Diversity charged the Navy with the destruction of wildlife habitat on the island. A subsequent court ruling ordered the U.S. Defense Department to cease bombing exercises on Farallon de Medinilla until they came in compliance with the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

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