Kosrae (Kusaie)

Kosrae State is composed of a single 42-square-mile island, Kosrae, the second largest island in the FSM. The profile of the central mountain, Mount Finkol, gives the island its nickname: Island of the Sleeping Lady.

sleeping lady

Kosrae is a lush, jungle-covered, high volcanic island ...

jungle jungle mangrove tree mangroves pandanus trees

hibiscus morning glory white orchid hibiscus flower buds

fern fiddlehead coconut palm

mushroom mushrooms mushroom

mushrooms mushrooms

dragonfly spider

frog lizard lizard


... with friendly, easy-going people.

child in Menke River child in Menke  River children girls woman and children man with machete at Menke ruins

man woman traditional dancer traditional dancer

The Air Micronesia crews who fly into Kosrae know to stock up on the island's delicious green-skinned, nearly seedless, sweet tangerines.

green tangerines

Five traditional villages ring the island.

coast coast coast village village canoe on beach children in boat children in outrigger canoe

From 1400 to 1800 Kosrae was ruled by a feudal aristocracy from Insaru on Lelu Island, which is joined to the northeast side of the main island by a causeway. The prismatic stacked basalt ruins of Insaru are still impressive. Local lore has it that the buildings were constructed overnight by two magicians. Warriors from Insaru captured Nan Madol, the capital of Pohnpei, in the 17th century, overthrowing the Saudeleur dynasty.

Lelu Paul at Lelu ruins sakau (kava) rock

Diseases brought to Kosrae by whaling ships nearly wiped out the population in the 1850's. The whalers were followed by protestant missionaries from Hawaii, who converted the survivors. The people today are very religious. The whole island shuts down completely on Sunday except for church services, sung in beautiful multi-part harmony.


Between World War I and World War II thousands of Japanese came to Kosrae, forcing the population to abandon their villages and move inland. Part way up the slopes of Mount Finkol are the the ruins of Menke, even older than the Lelu ruins. Menke was sacred to the breadfruit goddess Sinlaku.

Menke River Menke Menke

The island is surrounded by mangroves and a fringing reef. Underwater visibility is excellent. The reef is composed mainly of hard coral. A system of mooring buoys protects it from anchor damage.

cabbage coral soft coral

Anthias, Pseudanthias sp.

coral head reef scene coral head coral head anthias anthias coral head anthias

There is a wide variety of fish.

Purple anthias, Pseudanthias tuka

male anthias

Pink anemonefish, Amphiprion perideraion


Orange-finned anemonefish, Amphiprion chrysopterus


Freckled hawkfish, Paracirrhites forsteri


Reef lizardfish, Synodus variegatus


Bicolor chromis, Chromis margaritifer


Black jack, Caranx lugubris


Juvenile yellowtail coris, Coris gaimard

Flagtail grouper, Cephalopholis urodeta

Moorish idol, Zanclus cornutus

moorish idol

Bigeye travally, Caranx sexfasciatus


Redfin butterflyfish, Chaetodon lunulatus


Ornate butterflyfish, Chaetodon ornatissimus


Latticed butterflyfish, Chaetodon rafflesi


Longnose butterflyfish, Forcipiger flavissimas

longnose butterfly

Whitetip reef shark, Triaenodon obesus

whitetip shark

The hard coral heads house huge numbers of spiral gill ("Christmas tree") worms, Spirobranchus giganteus.

coral head wth worms two worms worm

Other reef creatures:

crinoid crinoid

Giant clam, Tridacna gigas

tridacna clam

Graeff's sea cucumber, Bohaelschia graeffi

sea cucumber

Banded coral shrimp, Stenopus hispidus

banded coral shrimp

Cushion star, Culcita novaeguineae

cushion star

Dark red-spined brittle star, Ophiotrix purpurea

brittle star

Multipore sea star, Linckia multifora

sea star

We sought out nudibranchs (Paul's favorite animals).

Phyllidiella pustulosa

nudibranch Phylidiella pustulosa nudibranch Phylidiella pustulosa

Phyllidiella annulata

nudibranch Phyllidia cf. elegans

Phyllidia carisonhoffi

nudibranch Phyllidia sp.

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Last modified 14 March 2017