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Midway Atoll
National Wildlife Refuge

About 1,200 miles northwest of
Honolulu, HI   
E-mail: Matt_D_Brown@fws.gov
Phone Number: 808-674-8237
Visit the Refuge's Web Site:
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Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge

In the midst of a huge ocean, the tiny dots of sand that form Midway Atoll may seem insignificant, but its islands house a unique blend of elements from the world's natural and historic treasury, including unsurpassed wildlife resoures and remnants from one of the most decisive battles of World War II.

Situated midway across the world's largest ocean, 1,200 miles northwest of Honolulu, Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge is a place of astonishing beauty. From the air, one sees the surrounding cobalt sea breaking white over the barrier reef into an aquamarine lagoon holding the atoll's three low-lying islands.

Due to our cooperator's decision to leave Midway Atoll, the visitor program closed in January 2002. However, the "Interim Visitor Services Plan for Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge, the Battle of Midway Memorial, and Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument’s Midway Atoll Special Management Area" was approved on May 23, 2007. It provides for a small visitor program, beginning in 2008.

The Fish and Wildlife Service is now working with a variety of entities who have expressed interest in bringing guided groups to Midway Atoll. If you are interested in sponsoring a group visit to Midway, please contact us at midway@fws.gov). We will also offer opportunities for individuals to come independent of guided tours in 2008.

Getting There . . .
Because of Midway Atoll's remote location in the middle of the North Pacific Ocean, it can only be reached by air, or by sailboats under a special use permit system. For further information please contact the refuge by telephone at 808-674-8237, or by e-mail at Matt_Brown@fws.gov.

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Wildlife and Habitat

Some 28 million years ago, a volcanic island emerged from the sea, the second in a series of volcanic islands that today form the Hawaiian archipelago. As wind, rain, waves, and lichen eroded the volcanic island, its weight also pushed the earth's crust downward. Reef-building corals began creating a wreath around the sinking island.

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Midway, discovered in 1859, has a rich history. On July 4, 1903, President Theodore Roosevelt sent the first around-the-world telegraph message with Midway as the vital link. He recognized Midway's strategic importance both as a wildlife sanctuary and a military outpost.

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    Recreation and Education Opportunities
Environmental Education
Wildlife Observation
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Management Activities
Before the U.S. Navy left Midway, it devoted millions of dollars and significant effort to undoing some of the human imprints on the islands. Working hand-in-hand with the Fish and Wildlife Service, the Navy and its contractors demolished more than 100 deteriorated buildings, removed scores of under- and aboveground fuel storage tanks, and cleaned up the environmental contaminants left by years of military operations.

Predatory species, in particular rats, that wreaked havoc on seabird eggs and chicks have since been eliminated. Volunteers and Fish and Wildlife Service employees are struggling to control alien plants, including golden crown-beard, ironwood trees, and poinsettia. In their places, native grasses and shrubs such as naupaka are being planted to provide improved habitat for wildlife. Midway's only native mammal is the endangered Hawaiian monk seal. Known as "living fossils" because they have hardly changed in the last 15 million years, approximately 60 monk seals make Midway their home.

Midway's lagoon is an important feeding area for threatened green sea turtles, and they are frequently spotted within the harbor area of Sand Island. The refuge and the National Marine Fisheries Service personnel work cooperatively to monitor Hawaiian monk seal and green sea turtle populations, protect them from human disturbance, and maintain their habitat. Beach censuses of monk seals are conducted at least weekly, pups and yearlings tagged, and entanglement debris removed from beaches.

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