Facilitating Science

photo of the hihimanu boat
R/V Hihimanu. Credit: NOAA

There are several resources available to researchers at the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument including:

Research Specialist: Daniel Wagner


PMNM currently has four small boats that can be used for research and diving operations. These include one 36-foot Silver Ship (R/V Hihimanu), two 19-foot Safe Boats (R/V Kaku and R/V Malolo) and one 18-foot Boston Whaler (R/V Halalu). Each one of these boats is equipped with all necessary equipment for diving operations, including emergency oxygen, AED, first aid, dive ladder, tank holders, diver recall and dive flag.


The regulations of the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument  provide for temporary permitting of specific activities that are not otherwise permissible. Such activities are reviewed on a case-by-case basis. Permit requests are evaluated based on their potential single and cumulative impacts to the Monument’s resources versus the potential benefits the activity may provide in terms of resource protection. There are six different categories for which activities within the Monument are permitted, and the majority of these fall under research or education. All activities within the Monument require a permit.  Guidance on how to apply for a sanctuary permit can be found here.

Data Buoy

Two buoys that collect real-time data on oceanic conditions have been deployed in the Monument. Collected parameters include wind speed and direction, wave height, dominant wave period, average wave period, air temperature, water temperature and atmospheric pressure. A listing of these buoys may be accessed from here.


Recreational activities such as diving and snorkeling can be enjoyed at many National Marine Sanctuaries, however, the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument is one of the few sites that is not dive friendly due to hazardous conditions (remote geographic location, strong currents, etc.), as well as the lack of onshore infrastructure and medical support to support diving operations.   More information on diving within the National Marine Sanctuary System can be found here.


The Papahānaumokuākea Marine National encompasses more than 580,000 square miles of terrestrial and marine ecosystems, which are divided into different zones including: (1) State of Hawaii (all emergent land features and waters out to 3 nautical miles offshore with the exception of Midway Atoll), (2) special management areas (Midway Atoll out to 12 nautical miles offshore), (3) special preservation areas (emergent land features and waters of varying distance offshore off Nihoa, Mokumanamana, French Frigate Shoals, Gardner, Maro, Laysan, Lisianski, Pearl and Hermes and Kure) and (4) ecological reserves (remaining areas within the Monument). More information of each zone can be found here. A map with the locations of each zones can be found here.

Lab Space

The Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument has limited amount of laboratory spaces in their offices at the Inouye Regional Center in Honolulu. The Monument  has a partnership with the Hawai‘i Institute of Marine Biology (HIMB), where lab spaces are available. Please contact HIMB directly for more information.


The closest accommodation sites available near the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument  offices in Honolulu are at HIMB on Coconut island next to O’ahu Island. Please refer to their website for the most up to date prices. Various hotels are also available on the island of O’ahu.

Equipment and Instruments

Besides small boats, the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument has a series of instruments and equipment to support scientific research and work in the field. These include conventional open-circuit SCUBA equipment, closed-circuit rebreathers for mixed-gas technical diving operations, underwater cameras, an underwater light meter, a remotely operated vehicle, GPS units, radios and satellite phones.  


The Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument maintains a spatial bibliography that contains over 2,500 historical, cultural, management and scientific documents with information on the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. Many documents contained within this bibliography highlight research in specific geographic regions within the Monument. The spatial bibliography gives users spatial tools to filter results by location or keyword and can be accessed here. Additional documents with information on the Monument are available here.

Key Documents

Research Needs

Documents have been developed that describe the immediate science needs for critical management issues.

Condition Report

The Condition Report is a summary of the status and trends of sanctuary resources, pressures on those resources, and management responses to the pressures that threaten the marine environment.