Image description: Two masked boobys stand on the backs of resting sea turtles on the shore of Trig Island, French Frigate Shoals, part of the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument in Hawaii.
The Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument is the single largest conservation area under the U.S. flag, and one of the largest marine conservation areas in the world. It encompasses 139,797 square miles of the Pacific Ocean - an area larger than all the country’s national parks combined.
The extensive coral reefs found there are home to over 7,000 marine species, one quarter of which are found only in the Hawaiian Archipelago. Many of the islands and shallow water environments are important habitats for rare species such as the threatened green turtle and the endangered Hawaiian monk seal.
Photo by Mark Sully of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.