Lighthouses of Aves Island

Isla Aves (Bird Island) is a small, isolated scrap of land in the eastern Caribbean, about 225 km (140 mi) west of Dominica and 550 km (340 mi) north of Venezuela. Having no supply of fresh water other than rainfall, the island has never been inhabited. From 1878 to 1912 it was occupied intermittantly by a U.S. company under the U.S. Guano Islands Act. Venezuela asserted its claim to the island in 1895 (based on an 1865 arbitration agreement with the Netherlands), but it took no action on the claim until 1950 when a Venezuelan naval force took physical possession of the island. In 1978 a permanent scientific station was established, staffed by scientists and protected by naval personnel.

Venezuelan ownership was confirmed in treaties with the U.S. in 1978, with France in 1980, and with Dominica, the closest nation of the Lesser Antilles, in 2006. However, erosion has claimed much of the island in recent decades, and there is a danger that rising sea levels will cause it to disappear completely.

ARLHS numbers are from the ARLHS World List of Lights. Admiralty numbers are from volume J of the Admiralty List of Lights & Fog Signals. U.S. NGA List numbers are from Publication 110.

General Sources
Online List of Lights - Isla Aves
Photos posted by Alexander Trabas.
Isla Aves (2)
2002 (station established 1981). Active; focal plane 19 m (62 ft); white flash every 5 s. Light mounted atop a 3-story scientific station building, which stands on a platform supported by concrete piles. The current structure was built by a 2002 expedition and is occupied by rotating naval crews and visiting scientists. A photo by Capt. Theo Hinrichs is at right, Trabas has a photo by Capt. Peter Mosselberger, several German amateur radio operators have a photo essay from a 2006 DXpedition to this extremely rare amateur radio jurisdiction, and Google has a satellite view. Accessible only by boat; Venezuelan Navy permits are required to land on the island or visit the station. Site and tower closed. ARLHS AVE-001; Admiralty J5700; NGA 16851.

Base Científico Naval Simón Bolívar, Isla Aves
(light is seen atop the left end of the station)
photo copyright Capt. Theo Hinrichs; used by permission

Adjoining pages: East: Dominica | South: Venezuela Caribbean Islands

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Posted January 11, 2008. Checked and revised January 24, 2019. Lighthouses: 1. Site copyright 2019 Russ Rowlett and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.