Expedition to the Line Islands

The Line Islands are one of the most remote places in the Pacific Ocean.

Credit: Smithsonian Institution

Remotely located in the central Pacific Ocean, south of Hawaii, the Line Islands provide a remarkable research opportunity. The archipelago includes coral reefs reflecting the whole spectrum of environmental conditions—from degraded to pristine. Some islands are heavily populated, with reefs severely damaged by fishing and pollution. Others are uninhabited, with reefs virtually intact. And between these two extremes are reefs at different levels of health. Marine ecologist Enric Sala and a team of researchers visited the islands in 2009 as part of a National Geographic expedition. Studying these reefs will help inform decisions about the minimum size a marine reserve must be to protect coral reefs. Listen to Enric Sala reflect on this expedition in a recorded lecture, "The Last Wild Places in the Ocean."

Human impacts, Biodiversity, National Geographic Society, Pacific islands

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More Information

Read the blog of Enric Sala's 2009 expedition to the Line IslandsView National Geographic photos of the Line IslandsRead a National Geographic article about what a healthy coral reef looks like