U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service logo A Unit of the National Wildlife Refuge System
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Kingman Reef
National Wildlife Refuge

About 1,000 miles southwest of
Honolulu, HI   
E-mail: Susan_White@fws.gov
Phone Number: 808-792-9560
Visit the Refuge's Web Site:
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Kingman Reef National Wildlife Refuge

Kingman Reef is an uninhabited, barren, coral atoll with a deep lagoon 5 miles wide and 9½ miles long. Located about 1,000 miles southwest of Honolulu, this triangular reef has a land area of only 0.01 square miles. It became a U.S. naval reservation in 1934. Pan American Airways used the lagoon just before World War II as a station for seaplanes flying between Hawaii and Samoa. Kingman consists of coral reefs and submerged lands.

The reef is wet or awash most of the time, with a maximum elevation of about 1 meter. Besides a spectacular diversity of coral reef fishes, corals, and other marine organisms, it provides roosting, feeding, and other essential habitat for migratory seabirds, and supports migratory shorebirds and threatened Pacific green turtles.

Getting There . . .
The reef is closed to the public.

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Wildlife and Habitat

The reefs and waters of Kingman Reef support a spectacularly diverse and healthy marine community. Coral reef ecologists reported 168 species of fishes including sharks, rays, eels, groupers, jacks, goatfishes, butterflyfishes, parrotfishes, and tuna. Also recorded were 102 species of corals, including an undescribed species of fingercoral and spectacular assemblages of mushroom coral, fire coral, table coral, and plate coral. Several species of giant clams can be found in relatively large numbers in waters of Kingman Reef.

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Pacific/Remote Islands National Wildlife Refuge Complex Only three feet in elevation, Kingman Reef lies 932 miles southwest of Hawaii. Kingman Reef is one of the most pristine coral reef atoll ecosystems in the Pacific. Crystal clear oceanic waters and vibrant coral reefs support a spectacular diversity of corals and other marine invertebrates, algae, fishes, marine mammals, sea turtles and migratory seabirds.

Submerged and partially exposed coral reefs form the shape of a triangle and surround a central lagoon. The outer reef is approximately 12.4 miles long on the south face, 7.5 miles long on the northeastern face, and 8.7 miles long on the northeastern face. Lagoon depths range from approximately 50 to 250 feet. Three coral rubble land spits are found atop the estern reefs providing resting sites for migratory shorebirds and seabirds.

The first recorded western contact at Kingman Reef was by an American seaman, Captain Fanning, in 1798. The reef was named after Captain Kingman, who visited in 1853. The United States annexed the reef in 1922 and in 1934 delegated jurisdiction to the Navy. Its sheltered lagoon served as a way station for flying boats on Hawaii to American Samoa flights during the 1930s.

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The refuge is closed to the public.

Recreation and Education Opportunities
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Management Activities
Species identified as endangered or threatened will receive management priority, with a special emphasis on protecting sea turtles, migratory seabirds, the coral reef, and pelagic wildlife.

Management actions will include implementing navigational guidelines and aids to navigation to protect the shallow reefs from maritime groundings, periodic surveys of the coral reef environment, periodic clearance of marine debris, and scientific research and monitoring. The refuge will establish a no-take marine preserve in the waters of the refuge, closing it to all commercial fishing.