The Phoenix Islands are more than 1,000 miles southwest of Hawaii—far enough away from the rest of the world that they are still largely unharmed by human actions. This isolated island chain is home to one of the Earth’s last intact oceanic coral archipelago ecosystems.

The coral reefs teem with life and the tropical skies are alive with seabirds—proof that this remains one of the most pristine places left on our planet. The islands are critical nesting and migratory destinations for numerous Pacific seabirds. Underwater, corals are protected from damage caused by fishing gear, boat anchors and divers. Since these reefs are mostly undamaged, they help us better understand what coral reefs should really look like.

Since 2000, we have been traveling to the Phoenix Islands to learn more about what the oceans might have looked like before human exploration and exploitation. We have discovered new species and helped establish the Phoenix Islands Protected Area—one of the largest marine protected areas on the planet.

Phoenix Islands Expedition Blog

Nearly one year after the Phoenix Islands Protected Area was created, Aquarium researchers return to this amazing coral ecosystem to explore and study biodiversity. Read more...


Project Objective

Through a combination of scientific expeditions, public education and policy initiatives, we are working to preserve the Phoenix Islands’ marine and terrestrial ecosystems. We intend to create a successful, long-term conservation plan for the Phoenix Islands Protected Area, and will continue to document the biodiversity of this region.

Current Projects

We divide our time between hands-on scientific expeditions to explore and document the Phoenix Islands’ incredible biodiversity, and policy work to help preserve this region.

Results and Successes

In 2006, we led the charge to protect the Phoenix Islands and their pristine reefs. Today, the Phoenix Islands Protected Area is one of the world’s largest marine protected areas, and is safe from threats.