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Kingman Reef

Several isolated islands in Oceania, some uninhabited, were under United States jurisdiction, including Howland, Baker, and Jarvis islands, Kingman Reef, and Palmyra and Johnston atolls. Devastation caused by World War II was obviously most extensive in areas within the combat zones. In a treaty of friendship signed in September 1979, the United States relinquished its claim to the eight Phoenix Islands and five central and southern Line Islands. The two northernmost Line Islands Kingman Reef and Palmyra Atoll as well as Jarvis, Baker, and Howland islands, which lay between the Gilbert and Line islands, remained United States territory, however.

Kingman Reef National Wildlife Refuge is managed by the Fish & Wildlife Service in the Marine Monuments Program of the Pacific Islands Refuges and Monuments Office (PIRAMO). Less than 5 feet in elevation and one of the most pristine coral reef atoll ecosystems in the Pacific, Kingman Reef lies 932 miles southwest of Hawaii. Crystal clear oceanic waters and vibrant coral reefs support a spectacular diversity of corals, algae, fishes, marine mammals, sea turtles and migratory seabirds.

The two small coral rubble ridges that remain emergent at Kingman Reef are periodically washed over, accreting, eroding, and migrating atop the shallow eastern perimeter reef crest. They are used for basking by threatened green turtles. More than 225 fish species have been recorded, including sharks, rays, eels, groupers, jacks, goatfishes, butterflyfishes, damselfishes, mullets, wrasses, parrotfishes, surgeonfishes, and tuna. The Refuge supports a sizable population of bottlenosed dolphins and melon-headed whales, as well as several species of giant clams.

The reefs and waters of Kingman Reef support a spectacularly diverse and healthy marine community. Deep diving submersible surveys at the atoll in July 2005 revealed that Kingman is home to stands of some of the oldest deep water corals ever observed, with some gold coral colonies estimated to be 5,000 years old. These reefs support spectacular coral diversity (205 species including 181 stony corals through 2008), an abundance of mushroom corals and anemones on lagoon reefs, and many varieties of table and staghorn corals flourishing on ocean-facing reefs. Kingman Reef also supports among the highest density of giant clams in the Pacific, including the northern range extension of one particularly rare species Tridacna squamosa. Giant clams continue to decline throughout their entire range due to overharvesting and several species are listed by IUCN as depleted or endangered. Hence, Kingman serves as a critically important refuge for the continued existence of these clams.

Although no permanent land is found here, two small 2- and 1-acre emergent coral rubble spits occur on the northeastern and southeastern sides of the reef. In addition to the 3 acres of emergent reef, Kingman Reef National Wildlife Refuge includes 483,754 acres of submerged reefs and associated waters, out to its 12 nautical mile boundary.

The first recorded western contact at Kingman Reef was by an American seaman, Captain Fanning, in 1798. The reef was named after Captain Kingman, who visited in 1853. The United States annexed the reef in 1922 and in 1934 delegated jurisdiction to the Navy. Its sheltered lagoon served as a way station and anchorage for Pan American Flying Clippers on Hawaii to American Samoa flights and for U.S. warships during the 1930s before a channel and dock were constructed at Palmyra.

The first recorded western contact at Kingman Reef was by an American seaman, Captain Fanning, in 1798. The reef was named after Captain Kingman, who visited in 1853. The United States annexed the reef in 1922 and in 1934 delegated jurisdiction to the Navy. Its sheltered lagoon served as a way station and anchorage for Pan American Flying Clippers on Hawaii to American Samoa flights and for U.S. warships during the 1930s before a channel and dock were constructed at Palmyra.

On January 6, 2009, the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument was established, which includes Kingman Reef National Wildlife Refuge within its boundaries.

The proposed flag of Kingman Reef is based upon the GIANT CLAMS that inhabit the area. They are an endangered and magnificent species. The colours of the flag are navy blue, indigo, white, purple, and lime green. These colours are based upon the natural colours of Kingman's Reef most famous residents - the GIANT CLAMS. The white disc represents a pearl and the wavy lines represent shells of a GIANT CLAM from a forward looking position.

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