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Dr. Sylvia Earle and Wyland – Welcome to Midway Atoll NWR

Dr. Sylvia Earle, and Wisdom share a moment together at Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge.
Living legends – oceanographer, explorer, and "hero for the planet" Dr. Sylvia Earle, and "Wisdom", the oldest known living Laysan albatross at least 60 years old share a moment together at Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge within the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. Photo Credit: Susan Middleton

Fish and Wildlife Service staff and residents of Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge within the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument (PMNM) welcomed Dr. Sylvia Earle and Wyland the artist to the Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge on January 5, 2012. Dr. Earle is recognized as one of the world's most acclaimed oceanographers and was named Time magazine's first "Hero for the Planet". Wyland is a globally renowned marine life artist whose work is at the forefront of marine conservation. In partnership with the Co-trustee agencies of the Monument including U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, NOAA and the State of Hawaiʻi in addition to the U.S. Forest Service, the Wyland Foundation and photographer Susan Middleton, this visit promotes environmental education, raises awareness of critical issues and illuminates the success stories that have helped wildlife thrive in the ocean and island marine ecosystems of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. This expedition, called "Searching for Wisdom" has already birthed many Midway miracles (see highlights). Speaking to natural resource management accomplishments and through the additional protection provided by PMNM, according to Dr. Sylvia Earle, Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge should be a "model for the world."

Highlights

  • Earle and Wyland have immersed themselves in the beauty of Midway Atoll, taking pictures and video footage of thousands of Laysan albatross, recently re-introduced endangered Laysan ducks, and green sea turtles, and were escorted by a NOAA specialist to view Hawaiian monk seals.

  • In an historic moment with seas surprisingly calm, Earle and Wyland, accompanied by two U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service divers, dove together for the first time off of the atoll's southern reefs. They were surrounded by more than 175 ulua, jacks, at least 3 dozen reef sharks, morwongs, and an 18-ft manta ray. It was, Earle said after, a "lifetime dive".

  • A "Wyland Wall" unfolded in spectacular colors and imagery, that only Wyland can do, as the Atoll residents watched the artist at work throughout the day. The entry wall of their barracks now features a much larger than life dancing Laysan albatross pair, a Hawaiian monk seal and green sea turtle.
Wyland is seen working on one of his murals.
Wyland is seen working on one of his murals. Image credit :Susan Middleton/FWS
Dr. Sylvia Earle and Wyland share their first dive together at Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge.
Dr. Sylvia Earle and Wyland share their first dive together at Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge. Photo credit: Amanda Meyer/USFWS

Click Here for more information (you will be directed to a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service website).

Click Here to view more photos (you will be directed to a non-NOAA website).

Click Here to view a photo gallery of Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge by Andy Collins, PMNM Education Program Coordinator.

Learn More about "Wisdom", the oldest known living Laysan albatross.

Click Here to view the KITV4 news feature "Thriving Wildlife Triggers Hope For Hawaiʻi's Marine Life" (you will be directed to a non-NOAA website).

Click Here to view the Honolulu Star-Advertiser article "Wildlife Overload on Midway Shows the Results of Restoration" (1.3mb pdf).