Gardner Pinnacles was first discovered on June 2, 1820 by the American whalerMaro commanded by Captain Joseph Allen.
The Gardner Pinnacles are home to some species of fish not found anywhere else in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, and have more species of coral than two rocky neighbors to the south, Necker Island and Nihoa. Numerous insects live on the island, and a researcher claims to have found two new species of spiders here.
Since this is part of a wildlife refuge, Gardner Pinnacles is off limits to even the military, although they made an unauthorized landing in 1961 or 1962 and blew off the tip of the outcrop to create an emergency helicopter landing spot for the Hawaiian HIRAN project, an effort to determine location of area islands with great precision for navigational purposes. To this day the tip has not been replaced, and debris from the blast can be found scattered throughout the island. In the Hawaiian Archipelago, adjacent islands/reefs are French Frigate Shoals to the southeast, and Maro Reef to the northwest.