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Journal of Marine Biology
Volume 2011, Article ID 358687, 12 pages
Research Article

The Occurrence of Coral Species Reported as Threatened in Federally Protected Waters of the US Pacific

1Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center, NOAA and Joint Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Research, Honolulu, HI 96822, USA
2Pacific Reefs National Wildlife Refuge Complex, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Honolulu, HI 96850-5231, USA
3Department of Marine and Wildlife Resources, American Samoa Government Pago Pago, AS 96799, USA

Received 15 June 2010; Accepted 3 September 2010

Academic Editor: Robert J. Toonen

Copyright © 2011 Jean Kenyon et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


A recent study reported that seventy-five species of reef-building corals, considered to be at elevated extinction risk when assessed by the criteria of the International Union for Conservation of Nature, occur in Pacific waters under United States jurisdiction. Closer examination substantiates records of occurrence for 66 species, while records for the other 9 species were based on misinterpretations or are otherwise uncertain. Of these, at least 55 have been reported from reef habitat under federal protection within National Parks, Marine National Monuments, National Marine Sanctuaries, and National Wildlife Refuges. The highest number of species (31) is found within the Ofu Island unit of the National Park of American Samoa, followed by Kingman Reef (24) and Palmyra Atoll (21), both within the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument. Federally protected areas already in place serve as important habitats for resources whose stewardship needs and priorities may vary over time.