Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument, is located roughly 250 km to the northwest of the main Hawaiian Archipelago and extends over some 1931 km in the USA, and was a UNESCO World Heritage Site from 2010 onwards.

Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument

The ocean around Papahanaumokuakea is a huge and isolated linear cluster of tiny, low-lying islands and atolls. For current Native Hawaiian culture, the location holds significant cosmological and cultural importance. As a relic of the past and a manifestation of the Hawaiian sense of connection between people and nature.

The Papahanaumokuakea marine national monument, located near Honolulu, is thought to be the site where life begins and where souls return after death. The islands of Nihoa and Makumanamana are among the two where the archaeological remnants of pre-European occupancy and use may be found.

Pelagic and deep-water ecosystems make up the majority of the monument, with significant features including seamounts and submerged banks, large coral reefs, and lagoons. It is one of the largest marine protected zones in the world (MPAs).

Papahanaumokuakea marine national monument Honolulu

The Papahanaumokuakea marine national monument Honolulu, is located in one of the most remote island archipelagos in the Northern Pacific Ocean. This Realm Heritage Site comprises a world of superlatives, spanning 36 million hectares (88 million acres) of stormy waters, rocky basaltic islands, and low coral atolls.

This enormous ocean region is home to hundreds of endangered and unique species and is one of the world’s largest ecologically protected places. This vast stretch of water, which is home to the world’s deepest and northernmost coral reefs, is one of the planet’s last great examples of a healthy marine environment.

Most of the world’s diminishing population of Hawaiian monk seals may be found on Papahanaumokuakea. Its low islands and jagged crags are home to the majority of Laysan ducks, Nihoa finches, and black-footed albatrosses.

Swarms of sharks and giant ulua (blue trevally) patrol the reefs in majestic schools in the waters around the unique coral reefs, which are the remaining marine ecosystems controlled by top predators. Traditional Hawaiians have long considered Papahānaumokuākea to be a holy landscape and seascape, and it is integrated into their complicated historical and cultural views.

Polynesian explorers initially arrived in the area around 300 AD as part of a two-millennia-long migration that began in 3000 BC and spanned the Pacific. Before European contact, these inhabitants had lived on the islands for almost a thousand years.

While they mostly resided on the Archipelago’s main islands, the islands of Nihoa and Mokumanamana have signs of human usage. The World Heritage Site and entries in the National Register of Historic Places and the State Register of Historic Places both acknowledge the importance of the cultural sites on these islands.

In Hawaiian cosmology, Mokumanamana has the largest number of holy places of any island in the Hawaiian Archipelago. Post-Western contact historic resources, such as those related to the Battle of Midway and 19th century commercial whaling, may also be found on Papahanaumokuakea.

The historic whaling business had a significant impact on the Hawaiian Islands, as evidenced by the World Heritage Site. In the early 1800s, ships came into Honolulu harbor for food and to recruit new whalers. Native Hawaiians made up around a fourth of the sailors in the Pacific-based American whaling fleet.

Sailors would travel to the Northwestern Islands, just outside the Kure Atoll, in search of whale oil when whales became rare due to over-fishing. At least eleven whaling vessels have gone missing in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. So far, five of these historic ships have been unearthed.

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