Howland Island NWR is managed as part of the Pacific Reefs National Wildlife Refuge Complex. A National Wildlife Refuge Complex is an administrative grouping of two or more refuges, wildlife management areas or other refuge conservation areas that are primarily managed from a central office location. Refuges are grouped into a complex structure because they occur in a similar ecological region, such as a watershed or specific habitat type, and have a related purpose and management needs. Typically, a project leader or complex manager oversees the general management of all refuges within the complex and refuge managers are responsible for operations at specific refuges. Supporting staff, composed of administrative, biological, and law enforcement are located in Honolulu and support all refuges within the complex.Other refuges in the Pacific Reefs NWR Complex include: Baker Island, Jarvis Island, Wake Atoll, Johnston Atoll, Kingman Reef, Palmyra Atoll, Rose Atoll, Mariana Trench, and Mariana Arc of Fire. The Refuge Complex headquarters is located at 300 Ala Moana Boulevard, Room 5-231, Honolulu, Hawai‘i 96850
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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.