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The  Northwestern  Hawaiian  Islands
 

The Northwestern Hawaiian Islands

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    The  Northwestern  Hawaiian  Islands The Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Presentation Transcript

    • The Northwestern Hawaiian Islands An overview of the islands and some interesting facts to consider Presented by Dan Capellan
    • Region Overview
      • The Monument encompasses the islands and surrounding waters, forming the largest marine wildlife reserve in the world.
      • 139,000 square miles of ocean has been set aside for protection, about the size of California.
      • The region has been dubbed "America's Galapagos."
      • Among the healthiest and most extensive in the word.
      • The surrounding waters are home to rich marine life, some found nowhere else, with new species being discovered.
      • Unique geology, biology, and cultural history.
      • Vital habitat for shore and migratory seabirds, sea turtles to nest, and monk seals to pup.
    • NWHI National Monument Boundary Compared to U.S. Mainland
    • Why it’s such a special place
      • June 15, 2006 — In 2004, the President named the protection of the Northwestern ago by designating this area a national monument and giving it one of the highest levels of protection.
      • The living coral reef colonies of the NWHI are a spectacular underwater landscape covering thousands of square nautical miles – nearly 70% of all U.S. coral reefs.
      • If they were laid atop the continental U.S., the NWHI would cover a distance equal to that between N.Y. and Omaha.
      • Ecosystem that hosts more then 7,000 marine species, including marine mammals, fishes, sea turtles birds, and invertebrates.
      • Many ecosystems are rare, threatened, or endangered.
      • Approximately one quarter are endemic, found nowhere else on Earth.
    • Why it’s such a special place
      • Beyond biological significance, the area boasts a rich cultural history.
      • Voyages by ancient Polynesians sailed these waters and used these islands for centuries as places of residence and worship.
      • Westerners explorers found these islands and raced to claim them for their own nations after original Polynesian settlement.
      • Adventurers tried to make a living from natural resources found there.
      • World’s first global communication network linked through these islands.
      • In WW II the U.S. military fought a definitive battle near Midway and used the region for national security.
    • Formation of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands
      • The NWHI constitute the northern three quarters of one of the world's longest and most isolated island chains.
      • Millions of years ago, a series of undersea volcanoes emerged to form the Hawaiian Archipelago.
      • Most of the NWHI are less than a square mile in landmass. Northwest of Ni'ihau, the rocky islands, atolls and reefs become progressively older and smaller.
      • For at least 80 million years new islands have formed as the Pacific plate drifts over a stationary plume of magma rising from a hot spot within the Earth's mantle.
      • Millions of years of eruptions have pushed the fluid rock up through the ocean floor creating high volcanic islands.
      • The Pacific plate creeps northwestward at about 3.4 inches per year, slowly separating the volcanic islands from their source, as a new volcano builds over the hot spot.
    • Formation of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands
      • As Hawaiian islands sink, reef building corals ring them. A lagoon is formed between the sinking island and the ring of coral. When the island slips below the surface all that remains is a lagoon bordered by a coral ring.
      • Over time, the reef erodes and coral rubble and sands form low islets near the reef edge that in turn are sculpted by the wind and waves.
      • Coral rings and islets are known as atolls.
      • At Kure Atoll, the last emergent island in the archipelago, coral growth barely keeps pace with the rate of subsidence and erosion.
      • In the cold waters north of Kure, where coral growth rates are slower than the rate at which submerged lands sink, corals begin to die.
    • Cultural Legacy
      • Native Hawaiians and other Polynesians journeyed in large double-hulled canoes to these resource rich islands and atolls.
      • The archaeological finds and oral tradition confirm a relationship of the islands to early Polynesian cultures.
      • Physical remnants of ancestral places at Nihoa and Mokumanamana (Necker) islands indicate use of these islands and the surrounding oceans by the ancients.
      • The archaeological finds and oral tradition confirm a relationship of the islands to early Polynesian cultures.
      • Evidence indicates that the NWHI served as homes and places of worship for Polynesians for centuries.
      • On genealogical, cultural, spiritual and geological levels, the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands are intimately connected to Native Hawaiians and the main populated islands.
    • The Marine Environment
      • Due to its extreme isolation from human populations and early protection by the U.S. Government, the NWHI marine environment has seen comparatively little impact from human sources.
      • Most of its marine communities and their intricate relationships remain intact and healthy.
      • Scientific research in the NWHI is finding that the coral reef ecosystem is predator dominated, with large carnivores such as sharks, jacks and groupers composing over half of the overall biomass of fishes.
      • The NWHI coral reefs are some of the northernmost reefs in the world.
      • Due to isolation, coral reefs in the NWHI shelter a high rate of endemism. About one quarter of all marine species found in the Hawaiian Archipelago are found nowhere else on Earth.
    • Nihoa Island
      • Up to 175 people inhabited the island circa 1000 1700 C.E.
      • Has more than 80 known cultural sites, including habitation terraces and bluff shelters, religious sites, agricultural terraces, and burial caves.
      • In 1857, King Kamehameha IV officially annexed the island as part of the Hawaiian Kingdom
      • Is the largest volcanic island in the NWHI, with steep slopes and sheer sea cliffs.
    • Mokumanamana (Necker)
      • Hawaiian name: Mokumanamana (“bird island”).
      • Named in 1786 after Jacques Necker, the finance minister under France’s King Louis XVI.
      • Tallest of the NWHI, at 903 feet.
      • All the plants and birds on the island are native.
      • The surrounding coral reefs have little life because of constant pounding wave action.
      • The island has more than 55 known cultural sites, of which 33 are religious and 17 are shelter caves.
      • Some theorize that some of the shrines on the island were used for navigational purposes by early Hawaiian and Polynesian seafarers.
    • French Frigate Shoals
      • Hawaiian name: Mokupapapa (“low reef island”).
      • Named after two French frigate ships that narrowly averted running aground on the reef in 1786.
      • A pinnacle on the Shoals closely resembles a full-rigged sailing ship, especially in moonlight, and as such, has lured many vessels to a fateful doom.
      • Are the nesting location for over 90 percent of the threatened Hawaiian population of green sea turtles.
      • Plethoric small islets are home to the largest subpopulation in the world of endangered Hawaiian monk seals.
      • Surrounding coral reefs grow on top of an eroded volcano that has been submerged for millions of years.
      • Greatest coral diversity in the NWHI.
      • Runway on Tern Island that was built in 1942 as fuel stop for planes en route to Midway dramatically increased the size of the island.
    • Gardner Pinnacles
      • Hawaiian name: Puhahonu (“turtle surfacing for air”).
      • Named after the two pinnacles of volcanic rock that make it a distinctive landmark for mariners.
      • Smallest island in the NWHI.
      • Known for its abundance of giant opihi, the endemic Hawaiian limpet.
      • Underwater shelves are incredibly diverse, home to among the highest recorded numbers of fish species in the NWHI, including many fish found nowhere else in the NWHI.
    • Maro Reef
      • Hawaiian name: Nalukakala (“surf that arrives in combers”).
      • Named in 1820, after the whaling ship Maro .
      • Has an unusual shape -- rather than the classic ring shape, lines of reef radiate out from the center like spokes of a wheel.
      • Reef layout makes the atoll hard to navigate, and therefore difficult to study.
      • Great abundance and diversity of coral.
      • Large amount of hard, pink crusty coral algae that act like cement, holding the coral together in high surf.
      • Researchers disagree on current state of the reef: Some fear it is in peril because its narrow, unconnected structure offers little protection from storm waves. Others think it is a complicated reef system in balance with the elements.
    • Laysan Island
      • Hawaiian name: Kauo (“yolk of an egg” or “white of an egg”).
      • Has the only lake in the NWHI, one of only five natural lakes in all of Hawaii.
      • Greatest representation of all bird species in the NWHI.
      • Because of its large numbers of seabirds and its accessibility, Laysan attracted feather harvesters and miners of guano (bird droppings used as fertilizer) around the turn of the 19th century.
      • Introduction of rabbits devastated natural vegetation and caused several land birds to become extinct; two endemic land birds (the Laysan finch and the Laysan duck) remain.
      •  
    • Laysan Island
      • The Laysan albatross population fell by 97 percent in just over 30 years (from 1 million in 1891 to about 30,000 in 1923).
      • Home to more than 30 kinds of plants.
      • Model of restoration efforts after attempts by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have succeeded in eliminating pests, restoring native vegetation and increasing endemic species populations.
      • In 2005, an archaeologist found coconut pollen in the lake sediments, evidence of one of two exciting possibilities. One is that native Hawaiians brought it, the first evidence they had traveled this far. The other is that the coconuts got to Laysan on their own, the first evidence that the plant made it to Hawaii without human help.
      •  
    • Lisianski Island
      • Hawaiian name: Papa’apoho (“flat island with a depression”).
      • Named after Urey Lisianski, a Russian navy captain whose ship, the Neva, ran aground on the island in 1805.
      • Highest point is only 40 feet.
      • Rats (brought accidentally by a boat rescuing shipwreck survivors in 1844) and rabbits (deliberately introduced by humans) have together devastated the island’s ecology.
      • Public outcry over the feather trade that began on Lisianski in 1904 was part of what prompted President Theodore Roosevelt to establish the Hawaiian Island Bird Reservation in 1909.
      • In one feather-poaching raid in 1910, armed officials confiscated 1.4 tons of feathers, equal to the feathers of 140,400 birds.
      • The reef’s predators (sharks, jacks and others) are especially aggressive and will harass divers and small boats.
      • Waters are filled with a wide variety of algae, explained by some researchers as the effect of nutrient-rich guano washing into the ocean.
    • Pearl and Hermes Atoll
      • Hawaiian name: Holoikauaua (“the dog-like animal that swims in the rough”, i.e., the Hawaiian monk seal).
      • Shape is constantly changing, with islets emerging and subsiding.
      • Named after the Pearl and the Hermes, two English whaling ships that wrecked on the reef during a storm in 1822. At least six other vessels have been lost in the area as well.
      • Too small to be of much interest to miners and feather hunters, so has been spared some of the ecological devastation seen elsewhere in the NWHI.
      • Waters are a prime mating area for spinner dolphins.
      • Waters have the highest biomass (weight per area) and the greatest number of fish species in the NWHI.
      • Angelfish, considered rare in the rest of the NWHI, are commonly seen on the reefs.
      • Scientists are constantly discovering new invertebrate species (e.g., sponges and corals) on the reefs.
    • Midway Atoll
      • Hawaiian name: Pihemanu (“the loud din of birds”).
      • Early inhabitants were castaway crews of several large sailing vessels.
      • Was claimed for the United States by Captain N.C. Middlebrooks in 1859 under the Guano Act, which allowed Americans to occupy uninhabited lands to obtain guano. It was the first offshore island annexed by the United States and is the only island in the NWHI not to become part of the state of Hawaii.
      • Geographical position made it a key midway location for early trans-Pacific cable communications (1903) and seaplane flights (1935).
    • Midway Atoll
      • As a naval base, Midway was first attacked the same day as Pearl Harbor. During the Battle of Midway six months later (June 1942), U.S. forces, warned by intelligence reports, surprised and defeated a Japanese invasion fleet. The battle is viewed by some historians as a major turning point in World War II.
      • At times the atoll has been home to up to 6,000 servicemen and dependents.
      • In 1996, the U.S. Navy removed tons of debris, leaky fuel tanks and lead paint, as well as rats, and turned the military base over to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
      • Close to 2 million birds of 19 species nest on the atoll.
      • Midway has the largest Laysan albatross colony in the world.
    • Kure Atoll
      • Hawaiian name: Kanemiloha`i (brother of Pele, the Goddess of Fire.)
      • Named after a Russian navigator.
      • Early inhabitants were survivors of a series of shipwrecks in the early 1800s, stranded for up to nine months at a time. Survivors ate monk seals, turtles and seabirds to survive.
      • The land provides an important pupping and resting area for Hawaiian monk seals.
      • The world’s northernmost coral atoll at latitude N28.5°, and longitude W178°.
      • The coral reef is at what is known as the Darwin Point, which means that the ocean temperature is just warm enough to allow sufficient coral growth to keep pace with the natural subsidence of coral. Atolls must exist at or above the Darwin Point or they will sink below the surface, losing sunlight, and the coral will die.
    • Human activities and threats to the ecosystem of the NWHI.
      • Vessel groundings.
      • Pollution from ships and other vessels.
      • Derelict fishing gear.
      • Derelict military and commercial infrastructure.
      • Land development.
      • introduction of alien species.
      • Ecotourism impacts.
      • Fishing.
      • Marine mammal entanglement in derelict fishing gear.
      • Toxic materials in the environment.
      • Impacts from fluctuations and the rise in ocean temperature.
      • Tons of marine debris and derelict fishing gear.
      • Floating plastic debris.
      • Major winter storms, periodic hurricanes, and tidal waves.
    • LAND AREA (ACRES)
      • Midway Atoll 1,535
      • Laysan Island 1,015
      • Lisianski Island 381
      • Kure Atoll 215
      • Nihoa 171
      • Pearl and Hermes Atoll 80
      • French Frigate Shoals 67
      • Mokumanamana Island 46
      • Gardner Pinnacles 5
      • Maro Reef N/A
    • CORAL REEF AREA (ACRES)
      • Gardner Pinnacles 944
      • Maro Reef 747
      • Mokumanamana Island 602
      • Lisianski Island 378
      • French Frigate Shoals 363
      • Pearl and Hermes Atoll 303
      • Nihoa 222
      • Laysan Island 163
      • Midway Atoll 134
      • Kure Atoll 125
    • WHIN By the Numbers
      • 1909
      • Year President Theodore Roosevelt established the NWHI National Wildlife Refuge by Executive Order
      • 1,380 Miles from Honolulu to the farthest point in the NWHI
      • 1,750 Species that are endemic to the NWHI, i.e., found nowhere else on Earth
      • 2000 Year President Bill Clinton established the NWHI Coral Reef Ecosystem Reserve by Executive Order
      • 7,000 Species of animals found in the NWHI
      • 14,000,000 Number of birds that nest in the NWHI
    • NWHI By the Numbers
      • 19 Species of seabirds that nest in the NWHI
      • 70 Percentage of all U.S. coral reefs that are within the NWHI
      • 98 Percentage of the world’s Laysan albatrosses that return to the NWHI to reproduce
      • 99 Percentage of the world’s black-footed albatrosses that return to the NWHI to reproduce
      • 1000 Estimated year that the NWHI’s first human inhabitants arrived (native Hawaiians, on Nihoa Island)
      • 1909 Year President Theodore Roosevelt established the NWHI National Wildlife Refuge by Executive Order
    • Sources
      • NWHI - Cultural and Natural Heritage Video: http://www.nwhinetwork.net/media/nwhi/
      • Rauzon, M. J. (2001). Isle of refuge: Wildlife and history of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands . Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press.
      • Culliney, J.L. (2006). Islands in a far sea: The fate of Nature of Hawaii . Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press.
      • Ziegler, A.C. (2002). Hawaiian Natural History, Ecology, and Evolution . Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press.
      • Maragos, J., and Gulko D. (eds). 2002. Coral Reef ecosystem of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands: Interim results Emphasizing the 2000 Surveys. U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources, Honolulu, Hawaii. 46 pp.
      • Cousteau, Jean-Michel. &quot;Jean-Micheal Costeau Ocean Adventures.&quot; Voyage to Kure: The Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Expedition Diaries . 2006. pbs.org. <http://www.pbs.org/kqed/oceanadventures/episodes/kure/diaries/>.
    • Pau!
      • Mahalo to Dr. Allison Chun for allowing this presentation.
      • Mahalo to everyone in this class for sharing your knowledge and more.
      • Dan