The Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument (roughly /pɑːpɑːˈhɑːnaʊmoʊkuˌɑːkeɪ.ə/) is a World Heritage listed U.S. National Monument encompassing 583,000 square miles (1,510,000 km2) of ocean waters, including ten islands and atolls of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. Created in June 2006 with 140,000 square miles (360,000 km2), it was expanded in August 2016 by moving its border to the limit of the exclusive economic zone, making it one of the world's largest protected areas. It is internationally known for its cultural and natural values as follows:
"The area has deep cosmological and traditional significance for living Native Hawaiian culture, as an ancestral environment, as an embodiment of the Hawaiian concept of kinship between people and the natural world, and as the place where it is believed that life originates and to where the spirits return after death. On two of the islands, Nihoa and Makumanamana, there are archaeological remains relating to pre-European settlement and use. Much of the monument is made up of pelagic and deepwater habitats, with notable features such as seamounts and submerged banks, extensive coral reefs and lagoons."
|Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument|
August 2016 boundary and location
|Location||Honolulu County, Hawaii / Midway Atoll, United States Minor Outlying Islands|
|Nearest city||Honolulu, Hawaii, U.S.|
|Area||583,000 square miles (1,510,000 km2)|
|Established||June 15, 2006|
|Governing body||National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Fish and Wildlife Service, Hawai'i Department of Land and Natural Resources|
|Website||Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument|
|Criteria||iii, vi, viii, ix, x|
|Designated||2010 (34th session)|
|State Party||United States|
|Region||Europe and North America|
The monument supports 7,000 species, one quarter of which are endemic. Prominent species include the endangered hawksbill sea turtle, the threatened green sea turtle and the endangered Hawaiian monk seal, the Laysan and Nihoa finches, the Nihoa millerbird, Laysan duck, seabirds such as the Laysan albatross, numerous species of plants including Pritchardia palms, and many species of arthropods. According to the Pew Charitable Trusts, populations of lobster have not recovered from extensive harvesting in the 1980s and 1990s, which is now banned; the remaining fisheries are overfished.
The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) reports that many species populations have not yet fully recovered from a large-scale shift in the oceanic ecosystem that affected the North Pacific during the late 1980s and early 1990s. This shift reduced populations of important species such as spiny lobster, seabirds and Hawaiian monk seals. Commercial fishing ended in 2011. The monument receives strict conservation protection, with exceptions for traditional Native Hawaiian uses and limited tourism.
The monument covers roughly 583,000 square miles (1,510,000 km2) of reefs, atolls and shallow and deep sea (out to 200 miles (320 km) offshore) in the Pacific Ocean – larger than all of America's National Parks combined. It contains approximately 10 percent of the tropical shallow water coral reef habitat (i.e., 0 to 100 fathoms) in U.S. territory. It is slightly larger than Australia's Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, approximately the size of the country of Germany, and just slightly smaller than Montana.
The islands included in the monument are all part of the State of Hawaii, except Midway Atoll, which is part of The United States Minor Outlying Islands insular area. Henderson Field, on Midway Atoll, provides aerial access to the monument.
The monument's ocean area is administered by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). It also contains within it a number of U.S. and Hawaiian designated refuges, sanctuaries, reserves and memorials with their own specialized administration.
The Hawaiian Islands National Wildlife Refuge, with an area of 254,418.1 acres (397.53 sq mi; 1,029.6 km2) is in the monument and is administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS).
About 132,000 square miles (340,000 km2) of the monument were already part of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Coral Reef Ecosystem Reserve, which was designated in 2000. The monument also includes the Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge (590,991.50 acres (2,391.7 km2)) and Battle of Midway National Memorial, the Hawaii State Seabird Sanctuary at Kure Atoll, and the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands State Marine Refuge.
The Northwestern Hawaiian Islands (NWHI) were first protected on February 3, 1909, when U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt created the Hawaiian Islands Bird Reservation through Executive Order 1019, as a response to the over-harvesting of seabirds, and in recognition of the importance of the NWHI as seabird nesting sites. President Franklin D. Roosevelt converted it into the Hawaiian Islands National Wildlife Refuge in 1940. A series of incremental protections followed, leading to the establishment of Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge in 1988, Kure Atoll State Wildlife Sanctuary in 1993, and the NWHI Coral Reef Ecosystem Reserve in 2000.
President Bill Clinton established the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Coral Reef Ecosystem Reserve on December 4, 2000, with Executive Order 13178. Clinton's executive order initiated a process to designate the waters of the NWHI as a National Marine Sanctuary. A public comment period began in 2002. In 2005, Governor of Hawaii Linda Lingle declared parts of the monument a state marine refuge.
In April 2006, President George W. Bush and his wife viewed a screening of the documentary film Voyage to Kure at the White House along with its director, Jean-Michel Cousteau. Compelled by the film's portrayal of the flora and fauna, Bush moved quickly to protect the area.
On June 15, 2006, Bush signed Proclamation 8031, designating the waters of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands a national monument under the 1906 Antiquities Act. Using the Antiquities Act bypassed the normal year of consultations and halted the public input process and came just before the draft environmental impact statement for the proposed Northwestern Hawaiian Islands National Marine Sanctuary was to be published. This was the second use by Bush of the Antiquities Act, following the declaration of the African Burial Ground National Monument on Manhattan in February 2006. The legislated process for stakeholder involvement in the planning and management of a marine protected area had already taken five years of effort, but the abrupt establishment of the NWHI as a National Monument, rather than a Sanctuary, provided immediate and more resilient protection. The protection is revocable only by legislation.
Joshua Reichert proclaimed the importance of the timely designation, saying:
Monument status is quicker; it's more comprehensive; and it's more permanent. Only an act of Congress can undo a monument designation. The sanctuary process, it takes longer; it involves more congressional input, more public debate, more hearings and meetings. And he [George W. Bush] obviously made a decision today to, actually, take a bold step and create something which is going to be immediate, that the law applies immediately to this place now.
The NWHI accounted for approximately half of the locally landed bottomfish in Hawaii. These fish are valued by local chefs and consumers. The NWHI bottomfish fishery was a limited entry fishery, with eight vessels, which were restricted to 60 feet (18 m) in length. Frank McCoy, then chair of the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council, claimed:
We are pleased the President recognizes the near pristine condition of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands waters. We believe the abundance and biodiversity of the area attests to the successful management of the NWHI fisheries by the Council the past 30 years and indicates that properly regulated fisheries can operate in the NWHI without impacting the ecosystem. The small NWHI bottomfish fishery has not and would not jeopardize the protection of the NWHI that President Bush is pursuing by designating the area a national monument.
The National Marine Fisheries Service published reports attesting to the health of the NWHI bottomfish stocks. Commercial bottomfish and pelagic fishing as well as recreational catch-and-keep and catch-and-release fishing were also deemed by some to be compatible to the goals and objectives of the proposed NWHI National Marine Sanctuary.
On February 27, 2007, President Bush amended Proclamation 8031, naming the monument "Papahānaumokuākea", inspired by the names of the Hawaiian creator goddess Papahānaumoku and her husband Wakea. On March 1, first lady Laura Bush visited Midway Atoll, and on March 2, a renaming ceremony was held at Washington Place in Honolulu, Hawaii. At the ceremony, Laura Bush and Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne announced the name change and helped raise public awareness about the monument. On May 15, 2007, President Bush announced his intention to submit the monument for Particularly Sensitive Sea Area (PSSA) status, which would "alert mariners to exercise caution in the ecologically important, sensitive, and hazardous area they are entering." In October 2007, the Marine Environmental Protection Committee of the International Maritime Organization designated the monument as a PSSA.
On January 30, 2008, the U.S. Department of Interior added the monument to a tentative list of 14 proposed sites for consideration on the UNESCO World Heritage List. The Federal Interagency Panel for World Heritage officially accepted the recommendation in November 2008. As a mixed site with natural and cultural resources, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) commented on the natural features of the monument, and the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) assessed its cultural aspects.
Federal researchers continue to study the monument's marine resources. A 2010 expedition reached the Kure atoll and its divers reached 250 feet (76 m) revealing new species of coral and other animals. Waikiki Aquarium is culturing the new corals.
On August 3, 2015, divers found the wreck of the USNS Mission San Miguel (T-AO-129) within the monument. She had sunk there on October 8, 1957 when she ran aground on Maro Reef while running at full speed and in ballast. Researchers will map and study the wreck in situ.
All commercial fishing eliminated in 2010
Amaranthus brownii was an annual herb in the family Amaranthaceae. The plant was found only on the small island of Nihoa in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, growing on rocky outcrops at altitudes of 120–215 m (394–705 ft). It was one of nine species of Amaranthus in the Hawaiian Islands, but was the only endemic Hawaiian species of the genus. It was first discovered during the Tanager Expedition in 1923 by botanist Edward Leonard Caum. A. brownii differed from other Hawaiian species of Amaranthus with its spineless leaf axils, linear leaves, and indehiscent fruits.
It was one of 26 vascular plants on Nihoa, 17 of which are indigenous, six alien, and three endemic only to Nihoa, including A. brownii, the Nihoa fan palm or loulu, and the Nihoa carnation. A. brownii was considered the rarest plant on Nihoa and had not been directly observed on the island since 1983, and is now considered to be extinct. Past expeditions collected plant samples and seeds, but no specimens managed to survive ex-situ conservation efforts outside of its native habitat. There are no known plants or seeds from A. brownii in any botanical garden.
Conservation and recovery plans for A. brownii had been proposed by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) which administers the island of Nihoa as part of the Hawaiian Islands National Wildlife Refuge in the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. In 1996, the plant was listed by the FWS as an endangered species. In 2003, the FWS designated the island of Nihoa as a critical habitat for the plant and it was classified as critically endangered on the IUCN Red List. Following a lack of sightings for over 35 years despite intensive surveys, the species was classified as extinct on the IUCN Red List in 2018.Bamboo coral
Bamboo coral, family Isididae, is a family of mostly deep-sea coral of the phylum Cnidaria. It is a commonly recognized inhabitant of the deep sea, due to the clearly articulated skeletons of the species. Deep water coral species such as this are especially affected by the practice of bottom trawling. These organisms may be an important environmental indicator in the study of long term climate change, as some specimens of bamboo coral have been discovered that are 4,000 years old.East Island, Hawaii
East Island was an island, formerly about 11-acre (4.5 ha)s in area, half a mile (800 m) long and 400 feet (120 m) wide. It was the second-largest in the French Frigate Shoals, and one of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, approximately 550 miles (890 km) northwest of Honolulu. It was largely washed away in 2018 by the storm surge from Hurricane Walaka. The remaining portion of the island above sea level consists of a sandy strip approximately 150 feet long.
The island, a sand and gravel spit that formed part of the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument, was a habitat for Hawaiian monk seals and green sea turtles, both of which are endangered species. 96% of Hawaii's green sea turtles nest in the French Frigate Shoals, and over half of those were on East Island. Charles Littnan, of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, described the island as "the most important single islet for [green] sea turtle nesting".From November 1944 to October 1952 the U.S. Coast Guard maintained a LORAN radio navigation station on the island. In April 1946 it was badly damaged by a tsunami, and in August 1950 it had to be evacuated due to a typhoon warning.Henderson Field (Midway Atoll)
Henderson Field (IATA: MDY, ICAO: PMDY) is a public airport located on Sand Island in Midway Atoll, an unincorporated territory of the United States. The airport is used as an emergency diversion point for ETOPS operations.
Henderson Field was named after Major Lofton R. Henderson (killed in the Battle of Midway during WWII) and is one of three airfields so-named (the other two include the original Henderson Field on Eastern Island (Midway Atoll) and Henderson Field (Guadalcanal)). The airfield now provides access to Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge – the sole "window" into the rich resources of Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument (established in 2006). It operated until 1993 as Naval Air Facility Midway. Its construction was begun by Seabees of the 1st Naval Construction Battalion in July 1942 as a bomber strip and were joined by CB 5.
After transition from the U.S. Navy to the Department of the Interior, the airport was subsidized by Boeing until 2004. Since 2004, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has fully supported airport operations and maintenance with some assistance from the FAA.
Henderson Field is an uncontrolled airport (no tower). Flight arrivals and departures are typically limited to night during November to June when albatross are present. (Midway Atoll NWR is the world's largest nesting albatross colony.)Hilo, Hawaii
Hilo (; Hawaiian pronunciation: [ˈhilo]) is the largest town and census-designated place (CDP) in Hawaii County, Hawaii, United States, which encompasses the Island of Hawaiʻi. The population was 43,263 according to the 2010 census.Hilo is the county seat of the County of Hawaiʻi and is in the District of South Hilo. The town overlooks Hilo Bay, at the base of two shield volcanoes, Mauna Loa, an active volcano, and Mauna Kea, a dormant volcano. Mauna Kea is the site of some of the world's most important ground-based astronomical observatories. Much of the city is at risk from lava flows from Mauna Loa. The majority of human settlement in Hilo stretches from Hilo Bay to Waiākea-Uka, on the flanks of the volcano.
Hilo is home to the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo, ʻImiloa Astronomy Center of Hawaiʻi, as well as the Merrie Monarch Festival, a week-long celebration of ancient and modern hula that takes place annually after Easter. Hilo is also home to the Mauna Loa Macadamia Nut Corporation, one of the world's leading producers of macadamia nuts. The town is served by Hilo International Airport.Hurricane Hector (2018)
Hurricane Hector was a powerful and long-lived tropical cyclone that was the first to traverse all three North Pacific basins since Genevieve in 2014. The eighth named storm, fourth hurricane, and third major hurricane of the 2018 Pacific hurricane season, Hector originated from an area of low pressure that formed a couple hundred miles west-southwest of Mexico on July 28. Amid favorable weather conditions, a tropical depression formed a few days later on July 31. The depression continued strengthening and became Tropical Storm Hector on the next day. Hector became a hurricane on August 2, and rapidly intensified into a strong Category 2 hurricane later in the day. After weakening while undergoing an eyewall replacement cycle, Hector quickly strengthened into a Category 4 hurricane late on August 5. Over the next week, Hector fluctuated in intensity multiple times due to eyewall replacement cycles and shifting wind shear. Hector achieved its peak intensity on August 6, as a high-end Category 4 hurricane with winds of 155 mph (250 km/h). On the following day, the hurricane bypassed Hawaii approximately 200 mi (320 km) to the south. Increasing wind shear resulted in steady weakening of the storm, beginning on August 11. At that time, Hector accumulated the longest continuous stretch of time as a major hurricane in the northeastern Pacific since reliable records began. Eroding convection and dissipation of its eye marked its degradation to a tropical storm on August 13. The storm subsequently traversed the International Dateline that day. Hector later weakened into a tropical depression on August 15, before dissipating late on August 16.
Hector prompted several islands in the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument to issue tropical storm watches after the close pass by in Hawaii that warranted the issuance of a tropical storm warning for Hawaii County. Despite Hector having passed a couple hundred miles to the south of Hawaii, it still brought numerous adverse weather effects to Hawaii County and the surrounding islands.Hurricane Neki
Hurricane Neki was the final tropical cyclone of the 2009 Pacific hurricane season. It developed on October 18 as an unusually large disturbance from a trough south of Hawaii. Moving northwestward, it slowly organized at first due to its large size. After reaching hurricane status on October 21, Neki intensified at a much faster rate and peaked with winds of 125 mph (205 km/h). It later turned to the north and north-northeast and weakened due to hostile conditions. While passing through the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument, Neki was downgraded to a tropical storm after the center became exposed from the deepest convection. It caused little impact in the island chain. After stalling and executing a small loop, Neki resumed its northward track and dissipated on October 27.Kure Atoll
Kure Atoll (; Hawaiian: Mokupāpapa) or Ocean Island is an atoll in the Pacific Ocean 48 nautical miles (89 km; 55 mi) beyond Midway Atoll in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands at 28°25′N 178°20′W. The only land of significant size is called Green Island and is a habitat for hundreds of thousands of seabirds. A short, unused and unmaintained runway and a portion of one building, both from a former United States Coast Guard LORAN station, are located on the island. Politically it is part of Hawaii, although separated from the rest of the state by Midway, which is a separate unorganized territory. Green Island, in addition to being the nesting grounds of tens of thousands of seabirds, has recorded several vagrant terrestrial birds including snow bunting, eyebrowed thrush, brambling, olive-backed pipit, black kite, Steller's sea eagle and Chinese sparrowhawk.List of flora of Nihoa
This is a list of the flora of Nihoa, an island in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, part of the City & County of Honolulu in the U.S. state of Hawaii. Nihoa is listed in the National Register of Historic Places and protected under the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument.List of reefs
This is an incomplete list of notable reefs.Midway Atoll
Midway Atoll (colloquial: Midway Islands; Hawaiian: Pihemanu Kauihelani) is a 2.4-square-mile (6.2 km2) atoll in the North Pacific Ocean at 28°12′N 177°21′W. Midway is roughly equidistant between North America and Asia. Midway Atoll is an unorganized, unincorporated territory of the United States. Midway continues to be the only island in the Hawaiian archipelago that is not part of the state of Hawaii. Unlike the other Hawaiian islands, Midway observes Samoa Time (UTC−11:00, i.e., eleven hours behind Coordinated Universal Time), which is one hour behind the time in the state of Hawaii. For statistical purposes, Midway is grouped as one of the United States Minor Outlying Islands. The Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge, encompassing 590,991.50 acres (239,165.77 ha) of land and water in the surrounding area, is administered by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS). The refuge and most of its surrounding area are part of the larger Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument.
Until 1993, the atoll was the home of the Naval Air Facility Midway Island. The Battle of Midway, which was fought from June 4 until June 6, 1942, was a critical Allied victory of the Pacific campaign of World War II. The United States Navy successfully defended the atoll from a Japanese invasion, defeating a Japanese battle group, marking a turning point in the war in the Pacific Theater. USAAF aircraft based at the original Henderson Field on Eastern Island joined the attack against the Japanese fleet, which suffered losses of four carriers and one heavy cruiser.
Approximately 40 to 60 people live on the atoll, which includes staff of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and contract workers. Visitation to the atoll is possible only for business reasons (which includes permanent and temporary staff, contractors and volunteers) as the tourism program has been suspended due to budget cutbacks. In 2012, the last year that the visitor program was in operation, 332 people made the trip to Midway. Tours focused on both the unique ecology of Midway as well as its military history. The economy is derived solely from governmental sources and tourist fees. Nearly all supplies must be brought to the island by ship or plane, though a hydroponic greenhouse and garden supply some fresh fruits and vegetables.Nihoa
Nihoa (; Hawaiian: [niˈhowə]), also known as Bird Island or Moku Manu, is the tallest of ten islands and atolls in the uninhabited Northwestern Hawaiian Islands (NWHI). The island is located at the southern end of the NWHI chain, 296 km (160 nmi) southeast of Necker Island. Nihoa is the closest NWHI in proximity to the eight main windward Hawaiian Islands at approximately 240 km (130 nmi) northwest of the island of Kauaʻi. The island has two peaks, 272 m (892 ft) Miller's Peak in the west, and 259 m (850 ft) Tanager Peak in the east. Nihoa's area is about 171 acres (0.69 km2) and is surrounded by a 142,000-acre (57,000 ha) coral reef. Its jagged outline gives the island its name, Nihoa, which means "tooth" in the Hawaiian language.The island is home to 25 species of plants and several animals, making it the most diverse island in the entire NWHI. Endemic birds like the Nihoa finch and Nihoa millerbird, and endemic plants like Pritchardia remota, Schiedea verticillata, and Amaranthus brownii are found only on Nihoa. The plant communities and rocky outcrops provide nesting and perching areas for 18 species of seabirds, such as red-footed boobies and brown noddies, terns, shearwaters, and petrels. Prehistoric evidence indicates Native Hawaiians lived on or visited the island around AD 1000, but over time the location of Nihoa was mostly forgotten, with only an oral legend preserving its name. Captain James Colnett rediscovered the island in 1788, and Queen Kaʻahumanu visited it in 1822. It was made part of the Kingdom of Hawaii by King Kamehameha IV.
In 1909, Nihoa became part of the Hawaiian Islands Reservation, a federal wildlife refuge established by U.S president Theodore Roosevelt. The Tanager Expedition surveyed the island in 1923, taking a comprehensive biological inventory of its many species. In 1940, it became part of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Wildlife Refuge and in 1988, it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places due to its culturally significant archaeological sites. In 2006, it became part of the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. Efforts are underway to ensure that endangered plant species are propagated beyond their limited range and represented in ex situ collections. Persons intending to visit Nihoa for cultural and scientific research purposes require a USFWS-issued special-use permit to land on the island so as to reduce the risk of introducing alien species to Nihoa's already fragile ecosystem.Northwestern Hawaiian Islands
The Northwestern Hawaiian Islands or the Leeward Islands are the small islands and atolls in the Hawaiian island chain located northwest (in some cases, far to the northwest) of the islands of Kauai and Niihau. Politically, they are all part of Honolulu County in the U.S. state of Hawaii, except Midway Atoll, which is a territory distinct from Hawaii and grouped as one of the United States Minor Outlying Islands. The United States Census Bureau defines this area, except Midway, as Census Tract 114.98 of Honolulu County. Its total land area is 3.1075 square miles (8.048 km2). All the islands except Nihoa are north of the Tropic of Cancer, making them the only islands in Hawaii that lie outside the tropics.
The Northwestern or Leeward Hawaiian Islands include:
Nihoa (Moku Manu) at 23°03′38″N 161°55′19″W
Necker (Mokumanamana) at 23°34′N 164°42′W
French Frigate Shoals (Kānemilohaʻi) at 23°52.134′N 166°17.16′W
Gardner Pinnacles (Pūhāhonu) at 25°01′N 167°59′W
Maro Reef (Nalukākala) at 25.415°N 170.590°W / 25.415; -170.590
Laysan (Kauō) at 25.7675°N 171.7334°W / 25.7675; -171.7334
Lisianski (Papaāpoho) at 26.064031°N 173.965802°W / 26.064031; -173.965802
Pearl and Hermes Atoll (Holoikauaua) at 27.927687°N 175.737991°W / 27.927687; -175.737991
Midway (Pihemanu) at 28°12′N 177°21′W - not part of the State of Hawaii
Kure (Mokupāpapa) at 28°25′N 178°20′WPapahānaumoku
In the religion and mythology of the ancient Hawaiians, Papahānaumoku (pronunciation: [pɑːpɑːˈhɑːnaʊmoʊku]) — often simply called Papa — is a goddess and the Earth Mother. She is mentioned in the chants as the consort of the sky god Wākea. Their daughter is beautiful goddess Hoʻohokukalani, the main character of one myth. Papa is still worshipped by some Hawaiians, especially by women, as a primordial force of creation who has the power to give life and to heal. The Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Marine National Monument was renamed in 2007 to the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument, in honour of Papa.Pearl and Hermes Atoll
The Pearl and Hermes Atoll (Hawaiian: Holoikauaua) is part of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, a group of small islands and atolls that form the farthest northwest portion of the Hawaiian island chain. The atoll consists of a variable number of flat and sandy islets, typically between five and seven. More were noted in historical sources but have since been lost to erosion and rising sea levels.
The atoll is named after Pearl and Hermes, a pair of English whaleships that wrecked there in 1822. It has been the site of at least eight known shipwrecks, including the Japanese Wiji Maru, SS Quartette, and most recently the M/V Casitas, which ran aground on the reef in 2005.
The atoll is an important habitat for seabirds, marine life, and invertebrate species. Twenty-two bird species nest and breed on the island, including twenty percent of the world's population of black-footed albatrosses. The atoll has historically been included with the rest of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands in conservation efforts. It is included in the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument, created in 2006. Ghost nets and other fishing debris, as well as rising sea levels, pose a significant risk to the atoll and its wildlife.Tosanoides obama
Tosanoides obama is a coral reef fish species discovered in Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument, Hawaii. Tosanoides obama was named after former US President Barack Obama in honor of his efforts to preserve natural environments including expanding the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. It was first discovered and named by Richard Pyle, Brian Greene and Randall Kosaki in December 2016. They also noted a distinctive spot on the male's dorsal fin reminiscent of Obama's campaign logo. The fish live in small groups in holes in reefs at a depth of around 90 m. Following the discovery the size of the reserve was increased.Tosanoides obama is one of four species in the genus Tosanoides.Two Brothers (ship)
Two Brothers was a Nantucket whaleship that sank on the night of February 11, 1823, off the French Frigate Shoals. The ship's captain was George Pollard, Jr., former captain of the famous whaleship Essex. The wreck was discovered in 2008 (announced on February 11, 2011) by a team of marine archaeologists working on an expedition for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument.United States National Marine Sanctuary
A U.S. National Marine Sanctuary is a zone within United States waters where the marine environment enjoys special protection. The program began in 1972 in response to public concern about the plight of marine ecosystems.World War II Facilities at Midway
The World War II Facilities at Midway were built as part of the fortification leading up to World War II. The Midway Atoll's unique location halfway between the United States and Japan ensured it would hold a strategic position. This island was the site of the pivotal Battle of Midway which shifted the balance of sea power in the Pacific towards the United States.
The atoll's two main islands, Eastern Island and Sand Island, were both fortified by the Navy. Eastern Island, the smaller of the two islands, had three runways in a triangular configuration, and was defended by six coastal and dual-purpose batteries, armed with 3-, 5-, and 7-inch guns. Sand Island, one mile wide and two long, was completely developed by the Navy, but had no runways until after the war. At the time of the battle, Sand Island was defended by six batteries erected by the 6th Defense Battalion, and one by the 3d Defense Battalion. In clockwise order from the northwest corner of the island, these were: Battery C, two 5-inch guns; "naval" battery, two 3-inch guns; Battery F, four 3-inch guns; Battery A, two 5-inch guns; Battery D, four 3-inch guns; unnamed battery, two 7-inch guns; Battery A, two 5-inch guns; 3d Battalion Battery D, four 3-inch guns.The military shut down all of its bases by 1993, handing over control to the United States Fish and Wildlife Service. The islands remain mostly uninhabited and unvisited. They are part of Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument.
Many of the facilities built by the Navy during the war deteriorated as the population of the Eastern and Sand Islands declined. Some facilities, such as the Eastern Island runways, were abandoned. New runways were built on Sand Island, in some cases destroying some of the surviving war defenses in the process. A number of the surviving elements of the atoll's defenses were designated a National Historic Landmark District in 1987. The following elements, all on Sand Island, comprise that designation:
three ammunition magazines associated with Battery A: S-7113, S-7119, S-7121
one and a half emplacements for 3-inch guns of 3d Battalion Battery D
two ammunition magazines associated with 3d Battalion Battery D: S-7124, S-7125
a concrete pillbox near S-7125
two emplacements for the 3-inch naval battery
one ammunition magazine near the naval battery: S-6194
Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument