The first 360-degree panoramic images from five new locations within Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument (PMNM) are now live on Google Maps. Internet users can now virtually visit Tern Island and East Island at French Frigate Shoals, Laysan Island, Lisianski Island and Pearl and Hermes Atoll.
During July 2013, PMNM staff from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the U.S. Fish &Wildlife Service (FWS) spent a week capturing thousands of new panoramas of the incredible features in the monument, covering 20 miles on foot using the Google Street View Trekker. This effort focused on five of the primary emergent land masses in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands (NWHI), which are also part of the Hawaiian Islands National Wildlife Refuge.
PMNM collaborated with Google to use digital imagery and Internet technology to bring Papahanaumokuakea to a broader audience and expand PMNM’s efforts to “bring the place to the people.”
In 2012, Google Street View went live with imagery of Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge. In total, more than 10,000 images across 41 miles have been captured from within the monument.
“The goal of collecting this imagery was to show the world how special and important the remote islands and atolls of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands are, in turn inspiring the next generation of conservationists and supporters,” said Kalewa Correa, NOAA’s Mokupapapa Discovery Center manager and project leader. “We hope that bringing the monument to the people through Google Street View will reach a larger audience but with minimal environmental impact, helping to preserve this amazing place for the future.”
Monument managers also plan to use the imagery as an assessment tool to capture the present conditions and health of the NWHI.
“This was an exciting project,” said U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service specialist Ty J. Benally, who took part in this year’s mapping expedition. “This imagery enables resource managers to initiate discussion and planning, without actual access to the islands, and helps locate conservation sites where efforts are most needed. In fact, turtle biologists have already utilized Google Street View imagery of Midway Atoll to determine where to look for turtles and see which beaches were closed in preparation for their research.”
Papahanaumokuakea is cooperatively managed to ensure ecological integrity and achieve strong, long-term protection and perpetuation of Northwestern Hawaiian Island ecosystems, Native Hawaiian culture and heritage resources for current and future generations. Three co-trustees — the Department of Commerce, Department of the Interior and State of Hawaii — joined by the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, protect this special place.
Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument was inscribed as the first mixed (natural and cultural) UNESCO World Heritage Site in the United States in July 2010. For more information, visit www.papahanaumokuakea.gov.