Marquesas Islands




J. Hales


French Polynesia

Major Habitat Type

Oceanic Islands

Drainages flowing into

Pacific Ocean

Main rivers to other water bodies

Hakaui, Taipivai, Hatiheu, Pakiu, Hooumi rivers (Nuku Hiva)



Located 1370 km from Tahiti, the Marquesas Islands (7-10° S, 138-140° W) comprise the northernmost islands within French Polynesia in the South Pacific Ocean. The largest islands in the group include Nuku Hiva, Hiva Oa, and Ua Pou.


The Marquesas Islands are largely high volcanic islands, with only two that are atolls with sandy islets. The topography of the volcanic islands is characterized by narrow and deep valleys, steep dissected coastlines, high plateaus, and rugged mountains, with the highest peak being Mount Oave (1230 m asl) on the island of Ua Pou.

Freshwater habitats

The islands include perennial rivers like the Hakaui, Taipivai, and Hatiheu on Nuku Hiva. There are also numerous intermittent streams during the rainy season.

Terrestrial habitats

The terrestrial ecoregion defined by WWF for the Marquesas Islands is Marquesas tropical moist forests [OCO108].

Description of endemic fishes

More than 40% of the fish species are endemic to this ecoregion. All are gobiids, and include such species as Lentipes rubrofasciatus, Sicyopterus marquesensis, Sicyopus bitaeniatus, Stenogobius caudimaculosus, Stenogobius marqueti, Stenogobius squamosus, and Stiphodon tuivi.

Justification for delineation

The Marquesas Islands ecoregion was defined on the basis of distinctive (endemic or near-endemic) fish faunas. Regional species sources included Keith et al. (2002).


  • Gillespie, R.G.;D.A. Clague (2009). "Encyclopedia of Islands" Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.
  • Keith, P.,Vigneux, E.;Marquet, G. (2002). "Atlas des Poissons et des Crustacés d'Eau Douce de Polynésie Française" 55 Paris, France: MNHN.
  • World Wildlife Fund (WWF) (2001) \Terrestrial Ecoregions of the World\ "<"">"