Research Expedition to Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Finds Highest Known Rates of Unique Marine Species

On Wednesday, September 30, 2015, NOAA Ship Hiʻialakai returns to port from a 28-day research expedition to explore the deep coral reefs within Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands (NWHI). Using advanced diving technology to survey reefs at depths up to 300′, which is much deeper than research conducted using conventional scuba gear, divers recorded several species of marine life never before seen by scientists. In addition, fish surveys at these depths around the northernmost atolls recorded extremely high abundances of species found only in the Hawaiian Islands and collected what appears to be several new species.

Papahānaumokuākea is cooperatively managed to ensure ecological integrity and achieve strong, long-term protection and perpetuation of Northwestern Hawaiian Island ecosystems, Native Hawaiian culture, and heritage resources for current and future generations.  Three co-trustees – the Department of Commerce, Department of the Interior, and State of Hawai‘i – joined by the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, protect this special place. Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument was inscribed as the first mixed (natural and cultural) UNESCO World Heritage Site in the United States in July 2010.  For more information, please visit