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2007 Papahanaumokuakea Expedition
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Diver documenting an F4U-1 Corsair off Midway Atoll (Credit: Tane Casserley/NOAA)
Diver documenting an F4U-1 Corsair off Midway Atoll (Credit: Tane Casserley/NOAA)
From August 25th until September 10th, 2007, scientists on board the NOAA ship Hi‘ialakai conducted a multi-disciplinary research expedition within the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument (PMNM).

Work was conducted at Pearl and Hermes Atoll, Midway Atoll, and French Frigate Shoals in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands.  The team consisted of personnel from the National Marine Sanctuary Program, State of Hawai‘i, and the Hawai‘i Institute of Marine Biology . The varied project involved sampling of coral communities; large predator tagging with acoustic transmitters; algae genetic studies; education and outreach activities, and maritime heritage survey operations.

Artifacts at the wreck site of an unidentified large wooden sailing vessel, likely the four-masted schooner Churchill at French Frigate Shoals (Credit: Tane Casserley/NOAA)
Artifacts at the wreck site of an unidentified large wooden sailing vessel, likely the four-masted schooner Churchill at French Frigate Shoals (Credit: Tane Casserley/NOAA)

During the expedition, the maritime heritage team had the opportunity to assess several historic and archaeological sites, and further the documentation of the PMNM’s historic past.  Working in collaboration with other scientists, the maritime heritage team’s investigation included an F4U-1 Corsair at Midway Atoll, the Liberty ship SS Quartette (former USS James Swan) at Pearl and Hermes Atoll, and a new wreck site at French Frigate Shoals, most likely the 19th-century wooden four-masted schooner Churchill, which sank in the area in 1917.

Bitts from the shipwreck SS Quartette, a Liberty ship 
wrecked at Pearl and Hermes Atoll
(Credit: Tane Casserley/NOAA)
Bitts from the shipwreck SS Quartette, a Liberty ship wrecked at Pearl and Hermes Atoll (Credit: Tane Casserley/NOAA)

These ongoing maritime heritage surveys record the nature, condition, and distribution of historic artifacts, and provide material for outreach and educational products.  They also provide critical data to the archaeological resource inventory and allow the PMNM’s co-management agencies (NOAA, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and State of Hawai‘i) to meet their shared federal and state mandates in historic preservation.  Maritime heritage research highlights these and other historic resources, and gives the public a greater appreciation for our protected marine areas. 

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