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Northern Marshall Islands Atolls

Date of Submission: 24/10/2005
Category: Mixed
Submitted by:
Alele MuseumClary Makroro, DirectorPO Box 629Majuro 96960Republic of the Marshall Is
Coordinates: Ailinginae 166º20’ E, 11º10’ NRongerik 167º26’ E, 11º21’ NBokak 168º57’ E, 14º43’ NBikar 170º07’ E, 12º15’ NTaka 169º46’ E, 11º07’ NErikub 170º02’ E, 09º08’ NJemo 169º30’ E, 10º06’ N
Ref.: 2064

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The property is a mixed cultural and natural serial site comprising seven (7) largely uninhabited and unmodified classic low atolls and one low coral island in the northern Marshall Islands. All are known to be important green sea turtle nesting sites (except Bokak) and significant habitats for sea, shore and migratory birds. In the past, all of these atolls were used as important traditional pantry areas for nearby populated atolls due to the presence of birds and/ or turtles and their eggs. The property covers a range of latitudes, demonstrating variation in the typical vegetation and reef systems due to a decreasing rainfall gradient from north to south. Ailinginae, Rongerik, Taka, Erikub and Jemo are the quintessential tropical paradise. Ailinginae has been well studied and has broad support for nomination as a World Heritage site. Jemo is a low reef island (and not an atoll) but otherwise shares many traits in common with the atolls in the series. Jemo is well known for its abundance of green turtles - used by inhabitants of nearby Likiep Atoll for centuries, while Erikub has the favored turtle feeding grounds of sea-grass . In addition to its turtle nesting grounds, Taka possesses a spectacular population of giant clams. Bokak and Bikar, the northernmost of the Marshall Islands, are unique arid atoll ecosystems- rare examples of their type in the world - typified by low rainfall, elevated perimeter reefs and limited terrestrial biodiversity. These are internationally significant sea and migratory shore bird habitats. Bokak has been suggested to be one of the few tropical island ecosystems in the world (that have been studied) with no introduced plant life. Kabin Meto, the region in which Ailinginae and Rongerik are found, is listed as one of the key biodiversity areas in the Conservation International Polynesia-Micronesia Hotspot, but no biodiversity information is provided.