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Voyage to Kure: The Northwestern Hawaiian Islands

<< Expedition Diaries | About the Islands

Maro Reef

Satellite photo of Maro Reef

Hawaiian name: Nalukakala (“surf that arrives in combers”).

Named in 1820, after the whaling ship Maro.

Has an unusual shape -- rather than the classic ring shape, lines of reef radiate out from the center like spokes of a wheel.

Reef layout makes the atoll hard to navigate, and therefore difficult to study.

Great abundance and diversity of coral.

Large amount of hard, pink crusty coral algae that act like cement, holding the coral together in high surf.

Researchers disagree on current state of the reef: Some fear it is in peril because its narrow, unconnected structure offers little protection from storm waves. Others think it is a complicated reef system in balance with the elements.