Midway Islands

Interesting facts

Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge is home to 21 breeding seabird species – about 3 million individual birds – including Laysan, black-footed and short-tailed albatross, and Laysan ducks. The Hawaiian name for Midway Atoll is Pihemanu, which means “the loud din or sound of birds.”

The Laysan duck is the most endangered duck in the Northern Hemisphere. In 1911, there was just one known breeding female in the only known wild population on Laysan Island, 750 miles from Midway Atoll. In 2004 and 2005, 42 wild Laysan ducks were relocated from Laysan to Midway Atoll. The re-establishment of a second population at Midway reduced the risk of extinction should a catastrophic event occur at Laysan Island, such as a hurricane or avian disease.

Annually, adult albatrosses bring an estimated 5 tons of plastic – mistaken for floating fish eggs, squid or other seafood – to Midway Atoll and feed it to their chicks. Almost all chicks hatched at Midway have plastic in them.

On any given day, Midway Atoll is the last piece of U.S. territory on which the sun sets. Midway Atoll is just 140 nautical miles east of the International Dateline.


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