Adult and chick brown booby (Sula leucogaster) with Hawaiian Green sea turtle / honu (Chelonia mydas). Photo by: Koa Matsuoka, 2015
Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument (PMNM) is one of the largest fully protected conservation areas in the world. It encompasses 582,578 square miles (1,508,870 square kilometres) of the Pacific Ocean. PMNM is a vast and isolated linear cluster of small, low lying islands and atolls, with surrounding ocean, roughly 250 km to the north-west of the main Hawaiian Archipelago and extending around 2000 kilometres.
The wide stretch of coral islands, seamounts, banks and shoals supports an incredible diversity of coral, fish, birds, marine mammals and other flora and fauna, many of which are unique to the Hawaiian Island chain. Many of the islands and shallow water environments are important habitats for rare species such as the threatened green turtle and the endangered Hawaiian monk seal, as well as the 14 million seabirds representing 22 species that breed and nest there. Land areas also provide a home for four species of bird found nowhere else in the world, including the world's most endangered duck, the Laysan duck.
A Hawaiian monk seal / ilioholokauaua (Neomonachus schauinslandi) swims close, curiously examining the diver behind the camera. Photo by: Andrew Gray/NOAA, 2017
Papahānaumokuākea & Climate Change
On July 30, 2010, Papahānaumokuākea was inscribed as a mixed (natural and cultural) World Heritage Site by the delegates of UNESCO 34th World Heritage Convention in Brasilia. 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.
More about Papahānaumokuākea in UNESCO videos.
Threats to the natural wonder include marine litter, hazardous cargo, future exploration and mining, military operations, Illegal, Unregulated and Unreported (IUU) fishing, commercial fishing, anchor damage, vessel strikes and Invasive Alien Species. Perhaps one of the most significant threats to living resources in the monument is global climate change and its manifestations, including changes in ocean chemistry, rising sea levels, and rising sea surface temperatures, with resultant coral bleaching.
The Marine Debris team removing the coral heads from the large net conglomerate to show how much destruction it had caused before reaching shore. Photo By: NOAA, 2016
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