Pacific Island Ecosystems Research Center
Northwestern Hawaiian Islands
The Northwestern Hawaiian islands (also called the “Leeward Islands”) are the small, low-lying islands and atolls in the Hawaiian archipelago running some 1200 miles northwest of the islands of Kauai and Niihau in the North Pacific Ocean. They are the oldest elements of the archipelago, approximately 7 to 30 million years old. The span, encompassing almost 140,000 square miles, is jointly protected as the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument, Hawaiian Islands National Wildlife Refuge, Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge, and the state of Hawaii. Characterized by rich cultural history and tremendous native marine and terrestrial biodiversity, it is enscribed by UNESCO as one of only 26 mixed (natural and cultural) World Heritage Sites in the world. PIERC partnership with Department of Interior includes research at the overlaid Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument, Hawaiian Islands National Wildlife Refuge, and Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge.