I’ve wanted to go to Palmyra Atoll ever since I first heard about it many years ago.
Palmyra is a remote atoll in the Central Pacific, and a Conservancy preserve. Recently, Palmyra and Kingman Reef were linked as part of the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument, encompassing a staggering 195,000 square miles of ocean.
The outer reefs of Palmyra and nearby Kingman are famous for having some of the most “pristine” reefs in the world, particularly populations of large predators — sharks, jacks and other reef fishes that are now rare or absent from many reefs. For a fish biologist like me, it is paradise.
So imagine my excitement when I was invited to participate in the Conservancy’s first marine resource assessment of the atoll. What was my first day there like?
Palmyra is one of the most remote places on earth. To get here I had to fly from Australia to Honolulu, and then fly a 1,000 miles south on a turbo prop aircraft – the only plane that can land on the atoll.
We left Honolulu at 11am, and flew over the deep blue Pacific Ocean for almost four hours. First we saw Kingman Reef. Wow, what a sight — a large ring of coral encircling a deep lagoon, with waves crashing all around.
A few minutes later Palmyra appeared on the horizon — a magnificent coral atoll surrounded by deep blue ocean, with white sand beaches and sand flats, island vegetation and seabirds. Lots and lots of seabirds — brown, masked and red footed boobies, sooty terns and many many more. After 10 long years of waiting, I had finally arrived at Palmyra Atoll.
Our expedition of five marine scientists will spend the next 10 days exploring the wonders of Palmyra Atoll. You can follow our adventures here at Cool Green Science.
(Image: Palmyra Atoll. Credit: Kydd Pollock.)