Pearl and Hermes Atoll

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NASA picture of the Pearl and Hermes Atoll

The Pearl and Hermes Atoll (Hawaiian: Holoikauaua), is part of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. Named after two English whaleships, the Pearl and the Hermes, that wrecked there in 1822, a few, small, sandy islands exist, contained within a lagoon and surrounded by a coral reef. These islands are devoid of vegetation, except for several species of grasses. The total land area of all its islets is 88.952 acres (35.998 ha). The atoll had its greatest importance within the pearl trade. In 1927, Captain William Greig Anderson was fishing for tuna and in the process, discovered pearl beds within the lagoon. This opened up the first commercial activity within the atoll, but the pearl trade lasted for only a few years. The Hawaiian government later prohibited commercial activity and declared the area to be a bird sanctuary. In June 2006, George W. Bush declared the atoll and all other parts of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument.

The endangered Laysan Finch was introduced to the island to provide a backup population of these birds, should a hurricane, disease, rat introduction, or other disaster wipe out the population on the island of Laysan.

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Coordinates: 27°48′N 175°51′W / 27.800°N 175.850°W / 27.800; -175.850