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Education and Outreach

Historic Feature: La Pérouse Pinnacle

La Pérouse Pinnacle.
La Pérouse Pinnacle. Photo Credit: James Watt

La Pérouse Pinnacle at French Frigate Shoals is a basalt rock outcrop rising 122 feet from the lagoon. It is a remnant of the twelve million year old volcano that once rose far above the ocean's surface. The lava rock composing the pinnacle is exceptionally dense, and is thought to have originated from the throat of the main volcanic cone. In 1786 two French frigate ships, the Astrolabe and the Boussole, under the command of Count La Pérouse nearly ran aground at the shoals. On November 6, 1786 at about half past 1 AM on a calm moonlit night the Boussole mistook the white, guano covered sides of the pinnacle for the sails of her sister ship, the Astrolabe and steered toward her. At the last moment before running upon the reef the crew spotted breaking waves and narrowly steered clear. The pinnacle is named in honor of this event.