Main Content

Oceans

Lesson from Palmyra Atoll Can Shape Ocean Conservation Efforts Around the Globe

by

Maria Damanaki

Global Managing Director, Oceans, The Nature Conservancy

May 2016

Dark blue water in Palmyra marks the edge of a shipping channel dredged during World War II. Photo © Kydd Pollock.
Dark blue water in Palmyra marks the edge of a shipping channel dredged during World War II. Photo © Kydd Pollock.

A Note From Our Global Leader


Located 1,000 miles south of Hawaii, Palmyra Atoll is one of the most spectacular marine wilderness areas on Earth. Its unique location near the equator, phenomenal biodiversity and history of relatively modest human impact mean the atoll’s reefs are as close to pristine as those found anywhere in the world, providing scientists with a baseline for what a healthy coral reef ecosystem should look like. While Palmyra’s reefs have not escaped the impact of global threats such as ocean acidification and coral bleaching, they have proven far more resilient in the face of these threats, incurring less damage and recovering faster in their aftermath.

The Nature Conservancy bought Palmyra in 2000 and today it is a national marine monument that the Conservancy and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service are partnering to protect. Through the Palmyra Atoll Research Consortium, it is also being developed as a center for scientific study. What we can learn at Palmyra — about global climate change, coral reefs, marine restoration and invasive species — promises to inform conservation strategies for island ecosystems throughout the Pacific and around the world.

Watch the Segment from Dateline NBC (begins at 16:30 mark)