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Montipora Aequituberculata Coral

Jarvis Island is the crest of an ancient coral reef cap and massive underlying extinct volcano, emerging from the deep ocean floor of the equatorial Pacific. The equatorial undercurrent deflects off the western flank of the seamount, pushing nutrient-rich waters up into the sunlit zone, thereby increasing marine productivity and benefiting many species of marine life. This important phenomenon may be limited only to Howland, Baker, and Jarvis Islands because of their steepness and location on the equator. The upwelling is especially strong at Jarvis because of its larger size, supporting continuous mats of soft corals and large schools of plankton-eating fish.

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    Yellow hawkfish

    A narrow fringing reef surrounds the island, but a broad submerged reef terrace extends off the eastern shoreline, dominated by moosehorn and rose corals. Live coral covers about 50 percent of the reef terrace, and about 33 percent of the shallow slopes off the western and southern coasts. About 62 species of corals and a total of 252 fish species have been reported at Jarvis Island.

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Corals and Fish