Wildlife & Habitat
Johnston Atoll is located some 450 nautical miles SW of French Frigate Shoals, its closest neighbor in the Hawaiian Islands National Wildlife Refuge. As a result, Johnston and French Frigate Shoals may have played important roles as stepping stones for the migration of marine species between Hawai‘i and the Line Islands to the south.
Seabirds are the most noticeable form of wildlife on Johnston Island NWR and are among the longest-lived birds in the world; life spans in excess of 30 years are common for some species. Shearwaters and petrels belong to a highly distinctive group of marine birds that are readily identified by their hooked bills and also by their nostrils, which are sheathed in horny tubes arising near the base of the bill.
Tropicbirds, frigatebirds and boobies are medium-sized to large birds, distantly related to pelicans. All have webbing between all four toes, instead of three as in most other seabirds. Terns are small to medium-sized with narrow, graceful wings and thin, sharp bills. They feed by plunging or snatching prey from the surface of the water. The common term noddy comes from the stereotyped head-nodding courtship displays between adults.
Slightly more than 300 species of fish have been recorded from the reefs and near shorewaters of Johnston Atoll. Three species of marine animals are protected under the Endangered Species Act, the green turtle, the Hawaiian monk seal, and the humpback whale.