These are some of the first pictures to come from the expedition to the remote island chain. Dr. Earle was instrumental in the designation of these islands as a World Heritage Site, but this is her first actual visit, as it is for Wyland.
We can see that the group was fortunate enough to encounter sharks, the critically endangered Hawaiian Monk Seal, as well as nesting Laysan Albatrosses. Even given the great distance to major population centers from Midway, it is plagued by plastic pollution, most of it originating from sources on land. One study showed that 97.5% of Laysan Albatross chicks had plastic in their stomachs, and it is documented that forty percent die from it. Significant efforts are being made to collect plastic here and dispose of it properly, according to Dr. Earle, but a great deal more work must be done to deal with this global problem.
Stay tuned for more updates from Papahānaumokuākea!