Management goals include: •Conserving, restoring, managing, and protecting native terrestrial habitats that are representative of remote tropical Pacific islands, primarily for the benefit of seabirds; •Conserving, managing, and protecting native marine communities that are representative of remote tropical Pacific islands; •Contributing to the recovery, protection, and management efforts for all native species with special consideration for seabirds, migratory shorebirds, federally listed threatened and endangered species, and species of management concern; •Protecting, maintaining, enhancing, and preserving the wilderness character of Howland’s terrestrial and marine communities; •Preserving Howland’s biological, cultural, and historic resources; and•Monitoring coral reefs and response of corals to periodic bleaching events loss of seabird diversity. Polynesian rats were eliminated from the island sometime after 1938, and feral cats were eliminated from the island by 1986. Today the most numerous breeding seabird species at Howland are the lesser frigatebird (Fregata ariel), masked booby (Sula dactylatra), and sooty tern (Onychoprion fuscatus).
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The name "booby," originally coined by sailors, referred derogatorily to these birds' lack of fear around humans. Its feeding tactics are memorable: these dazzling white birds make high velocity plunge-dives in search of fish.