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Dr Paul asks: How are the coral reefs doing and what percentage of the estimated prior reef is now intact? (How much has been destroyed?) Thanks, Dr. Paul
The OWJ Team: Thank you for your question to the OWJ Team. Jim Maragos, a US Fish and Wildlife Biologist, provided us with this answer, based on his research and experience on Palmyra:

"On the western reef of Palmyra, virtually all the corals were bleached and killed as the result of a sea warming event in 1997 or 1998. Since that time the corals are 1/3 recovered in terms of area, about a third of the original area. Based on observation in 2000 and 2001, we would expect full recovery will be complete within the next 5 to 10 years.

The western reef accounts for about 1/3 of all the corals at Palmyra. Elsewhere, the corals and reefs are doing well, except in the lagoon where there has been virtually no recovery since the WWII era dredging and filling to establish the Navy base."

Through the Eyes of a Seabird — Page 3


Finally seabirds sing thanks that Palmyra has never supported a community of Pacific Island people, and was only briefly occupied during World War II. On other islands, seabirds, defrocked and flightless after their molts, suffer at the hands of humans stuffing them into sacks for dinner; booby chicks, born naked and vulnerable also become victims. On those islands, human's pigs, cats, and rats have decimated the ground nesters: masked boobies, tropicbirds, and sooty terns.

On Palmyra, the fishing birds find an abundandance of giant reef fish because Palmyra has not been over fished. The larger seabirds with wide-spaced eyes are free of the horror stories of death in the thousands by telephone pole and wire, as well as military antenna guidewires.

Birds, were they capable of avian philosophy, would muse how human behavior on Palmyra reflects a high level of consciousness. They will note that human behavior on a wildlife refuge is based on absolute attentiveness to, and honoring of animal needs. They might even note the positive effect on human mental health when attention is shifted toward the needs of other species.


Humans, we heavy-footed, earthbound animals, gape up at the returning birds, amazed by their feats of migration. With compasses, airplanes, GPS, radar, and computers, we come nowhere near the navigational miracles of even the tiniest of shorebirds; nor do we grasp the global consequences of our actions.

Seabirds instinctively know how small the planet has grown since World War II. Their up to 28,000-mile annual migration loops connect them to sea and earth and sky — and it's here at Palmyra where we might begin to learn some of their wisdom about our globe.

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