Locator Map | Glossary | MCBI WebsiteLARGE TEXT   NORMAL TEXT

 
 

WESTERN PACIFIC
Northwestern Hawaiian Islands

 
 

The Northwestern Hawaiian Islands (NWHI), the world’s most isolated chain of coral atolls, reefs, and islands, offer a rare glimpse of the world’s most diverse marine ecosystems. Stretching 1,200 miles northwest of the main Hawaiian Islands, the NWHI provide essential habitat for a multitude of marine species, providing places where they can feed, grow, and breed. More than 7,000 species of algae, marine invertebrates, fish, sea turtles, seabirds, and marine mammals make up the NWHI’s web of life. The NWHI is home to two species of albatross, Laysan and black-footed, and to more than 14 million other seabirds. Over 90 percent of Hawaii’s green sea turtles return to the beaches of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands to nest.

The Northwestern Hawaiian Islands are also home to pristine deep-sea corals found in association with submarine canyons and seamounts that are little-known. To protect the marine ecosystem surrounding the islands, the USA designated the NWHI as a coral reef ecosystem reserve in 2000, and restricted certain kinds of fishing that could damage coral and entangle rare species, such as the endangered Hawaiian monk seal. In 2006, the NWHI were designated as Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument.

 

EXPLORE BY THEME

Ecological Uniqueness
Endangered Species
Protected Areas

 

LEARN MORE

Map of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands
Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument
NWHI Coral Reef Ecosystem Reserve
Tern Island
State of Hawaii information on NWHI
PBS documentary on NWHI
NOAA Ocean Explorer cruise in NWHI
Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary - near NWHI, in the Main Hawaiian Islands
Humpback Whale Sanctuary - Encyclopedia of the Sanctuary

 

VIDEO

Hawaiian monk seal foraging in deep-sea coral habitat in NWHI

 

 

 

Trailer of the PBS documentary on NWHI


Black-footed albatross. Photo: J. Palmer, NMFS/USFWS


Hawaiian coral reef. Photo: NOAA, James Watt


Hawaiian monk seal. Photo: J. Palmer, NMFS/USFWS


Map of NWHI. Click to enlarge.