McKean Island —one of the reef-fringed islands of the world’s largest marine protected area, the Phoenix Islands Protected Area — harbors large nesting populations of lesser frigate bird (Fregata ariel). Built for flying, frigate birds are almost always in the air unless they are nesting. They capture fish by snatching them from the water while flying close to the surface. Unafraid of humans, many of these large birds flew right up to researchers there to survey the islands, reefs, and ocean for the first time since they were protected.
(Photo by Larry Madin, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)