Marine Habitat


 The marine ecosystem of Howland remains mostly undisturbed and pristine. Multitudes of marine species inhabit and visit the shallow water habitats that surround Howland Island, several of which are listed or ranked by various authorities as being imperiled. Of note, the giant clam (Tridacna maxima) is abundant at Howland Island and is listed under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). The humphead wrasse (Cheilinus undulatus) is also listed under CITES and designated as Endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and occurs in the nearshore waters of Howland. Nearshore waters are also home to two endangered species of sea turtles and sea mammals that have yet to be studied. Taken collectively with the terrestrial habitat, the coral reefs are an integral component of the overall health of the Howland Islandecosystem.


  • Corals

    staghorn colonies 150x118

    By 2010 a total of 109 species of stony corals had been identified at Howland, including thickets of staghorn, plate, brain, and table corals. The 8 most abundant genera areAcropora, Favia, Fungia, Leptoseris, Montipora, Pavona, Pocillopora, and Porites. Despite a possible massive coral kill at Howland, related to the 1997-98 global bleaching event, live coral coverage is high, averaging more than 50 percent on the terrace and on some portions of bottom habitat. Because Howland is uninhabited by humans many of the anthropogenic stressors that afflict corals in other parts of the world are absent here resulting in a spectacular reef landscape.

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