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Oceania > Midway Islands-->
Midway is part of the extended series of Pacific islands which include Hawaii. It is an atoll of several low, sandy islands. The two largest are Sand Island (the most developed) and Eastern Island (not to be confused with Easter Island), with the smaller Spit Island between them. A coral reef which nearly encircles them (one of the most northerly coral formations of this kind). The three largest islands total 6.2 sq km in area; their collective coastline is 15km. The highest point is 13m above sea level. The climate is subtropical, but moderated by prevailing easterly winds.
The U.S. took formal possession of the islands in 1867. In 1903 President Teddy Roosevelt declared the islands a seabird conservation area. Later in 1903 the laying of a trans-Pacific telegraph cable, which passed through the islands, brought the first residents. Between 1935 and 1947, Midway was used as a refueling stop for trans-Pacific flights, and a hotel was built to house passengers. A naval base was constructed shortly before the U.S. entered World War II, and the victory over a Japanese fleet off Midway in 1942 was one of the war's turning points. Although the islands and surrounding waters were designated a National Wildlife Refuge in 1988, they continued to serve as a naval facility until 1993. The atoll was transferred to civilian control in 1996 following an environmental restoration effort.
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A private air charter company based in Honolulu provides air service to the Midway Islands on their 19-seat Gulfstream with a capacity of 3200-lbs. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which manages the atoll, currently has a newly established visitor program in place to accommodate small groups of interested visitors. Organizations or individuals wishing to visit Midway Atoll must apply for a permit from the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument months in advance of their intended visit. Currently a marine conservation non-profit called Oceanic Society is offering naturalist led ecotours consisting of groups limited to 16 participants. The tours are natural history focused, and offer one excursion to Eastern Island, and at least one snorkeling trip to the emergent reef. There is a harbor on Sand Island, and Henderson Field Airport on Sand Island is fully FAA certified and kept operational around the clock as an emergency landing strip for many trans-Pacific flights. Without this runway being maintained many twin engine jets would have to choose alternate routes that would use much more fuel. Travelers with their own means of transportation can inquire with the FWS about visiting. However sailors must still apply for the above permits months in advance of visiting and the Monument has very strict guidelines that must be followed in order to transit through these protected waters. A few examples are that vessels must have their hull cleaned prior to entrance and owners must pay $1500 for the required monitoring devices that track vessel movements while in monument waters. These requirements are in place to try to inhibit the introduction of invasive species and make sure that the fragile coral reefs are not jeopardized by errant sailors. Cruise ships crossing the Pacific sometimes stop outside of the atoll, using tenders to deliver passengers to Sand Island for day visits ashore however even these cruise ships must adhere to the strict permiting guidelines in order to pass through and visit the protected Monuments waters. Day visitors from cruise ships are guided by US Fish and Wildelife staff on excursions to see historic memorials to the battle of Midway, the nesting areas of over 2 million albatross, as well as many other seabirds. Midway is also home to the endangered Hawaiian monk seal and Laysan teal as well as over 200 spinner dolphins and many green sea turtles.
For more information about group tours visiting Midway in 2008 and 2009 see Oceanic Society's website at www.oceanic-society.org
 Get around
Bikes and golf carts are available for rent. Bikes $5/day, Golf carts $25/day
Nearly 5 million members of 17 species of seabirds nest on the islands, including 2 million albatross both Laysan and Black-footed. 80% of the world's population of Laysan albatrosses our found at Midway, more affectionately known as the "gooney bird" for their awkward landings and especially for their entertaining mating rituals. Endangered Hawaiian monk seals (7-8 feet, up to 500 lbs) haul themselves onto land to rest and to give birth and raise their young, giant green sea turtles (up to 400 lbs) are frequent visitors and have recently been documented nesting on Midways beaches, and a pod of 250-300 spinner dolphins lives – and often performs acrobatics – in and around the atoll's shallow lagoon.
The islands also contain memorials and artifacts of the 1942 Battle of Midway. As well as the original Cable buildings erected in 1903.
Again open to the general public,the primary activities are nature viewing and wildlife photography, snorkeling, limited scuba diving and kayaking. Currently all fishing is prohibited at Midway Atoll as previously conducted "catch and release" shore based fishing was demonstrated to reduce numbers of Ulua found at midway. Midway Bowl is the atoll's bowling alley and is open every Sunday evening from 700 to 900 PM. There is a miniature golf course on Sand Island that is currently being restored.
Sand Island has a small "Ship Store" that carries basic items, snack type foods and alcohol. They also rent DVD's. Near by is a small gift store run by "The Friends of Midway" selling T-shirts, postcards, books, recordings of the bird colonies, and other assorted items.
All meals are served at "The Clipper House" which now serves as Midway's galley to the 60 or so residents, and the visiting tourist groups and researchers.
US Fish & Wildlife employees about 6 staff personnel and has about 10 to 12 volunteers stay for 3 to 4 month stints throughout the year. Also USFWS has brought out a contractor to operate the facilities at Midway. This company is called Chugach and is a native american corporation based out of Anchorage, Alaska. Currently employing about 55 persons. Most are foreign workers from Thailand, but some are US citizens hired for a variety of needs. Additionally there are 4 airport/fireman contract workers, and one PA, these positions all periodically are advertised as open on various websites.
 Stay safe
There is no crime on Midway
 Stay healthy
Midway is staffed with a PA and three of the airport workers are EMT trained. Biggest worries are sunburn, dehydration, twisted ankles. However due to its active runway (Sand Island), fishing vessels have staged many medical evacuations of injured personnel from Midway.
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