Territory

Wonders of Johnston Atoll

Brown boobies on the stacks of old pier, Johnston Atoll
Brown boobies on the stacks of old pier / Lindsey Hayes, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, / CC BY 2.0

WorldBlue  Highlights

Johnston Atoll is an unincorporated territory of the United States. This is a very isolated place – a small group of four islands, heavily transformed by human activity and sadly… serving as a site where lots of REALLY dirty and dangerous military experiments have taken place.

In 1926 this atoll was declared to be a bird refuge but already in 1934 birds had to share the island with US Navy.

In the 1950s – 1960s poor birds had to experience tests of nuclear weapons, then these remote islands were used for launching satellites. There happened accidents ("Starfish" on June 19, 1962, and "Bluegill Prime" on 25 July 1962) when the islands and ocean near them were sprinkled with the debris of plutonium and other radioactive materials. This highly hazardous debris was collected from the islands and stored. Later this was supplemented with chemical weapons from the whole world.

Nevertheless, Johnston Atoll is rich with marine life – including more than 300 species of fish and 54 species of corals. Here live endemic animals, such as Nahacky’s Angelfish (Centropyge nahackyi) and ostracod crustaceans Parasterope pacifica and Bruuniella beta.

Map with the described wonders

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