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Palmyra Atoll
One of the most remote places in the world, Palmyra Atoll is rich in marine and terrestrial life.
Palmyra Atoll is located 1,000 miles south of Hawai‘i and is surrounded by one of the most diverse and spectacular marine ecosystems in the world. The atoll has one of the best remaining examples of a tropical coastal strand forest (Pisonia) found in the Pacific and supports large numbers of the world’s largest land invertebrate, the rare coconut crab. The coconut crab shares the islets with thousands of seabirds, including one of the largest Red-footed Booby populations in the world – second only to the Galapagos Islands. Other seabirds flock to Palmyra including Sooty Terns, Black Noddies, Brown Boobies, Masked Boobies and Great Frigatebirds. The atoll also provides essential habitat to migratory shorebirds such as Pacific Golden Plovers, the Bristle-thighed Curlew, and Wandering Tattlers.

Black rats, likely introduced to the atoll during World War II, prey upon ground-nesting and tree-nesting birds, particularly Sooty and White Terns, consuming eggs and chicks. Rats are also likely responsible for the absence of several species of burrow-nesting seabirds like shearwaters and petrels that would otherwise breed on Palmyra. Additionally, rats compete for food with shorebirds, attack native land crabs and eat the seeds and seedlings of native trees.
Learn more about the progress on Palmyra by clicking here, here, and here.

Island Conservation’s Role:

The Nature Conservancy of Hawai’i, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s National Wildlife Refuge System, and Island Conservation established the Palmyra Atoll Restoration Project to aid in the protection and restoration of the unique species and habitats of Palmyra Atoll, by removing non-native rats as a first step to the atoll’s restoration. Free from the threat of non-native rats, Palmyra’s Pisonia forest and seabird species will have the opportunity to recover. Species previously eliminated from the island due to predation by non-native rats will be able to return, where they can once again flourish.

Removing rats from Palmyra will result in biodiversity benefits for seabirds, plants, terrestrial invertebrates, and other components of the atoll’s terrestrial ecosystem. Successful eradication of rats from Palmyra may result in recolonization of extirpated seabird colonies, and will provide habitat for the potential relocation of the endangered Line Island reed warbler and the Tuamotu sandpiper.

Want to learn more about the project? Visit our project website at

Sooty Terns on Palmyra Atoll
Blue Fin Trevally in the waters surrounding Palmyra

Featured Species
These rare crabs are as interesting as they are large. Learn about their habits and how you are helping provide critical habitat for them!

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