Rapa Nui | WWF

Rapa Nui

About the Area

Rapa Nui, or Easter Island, sits in the middle of the southeastern Pacific Ocean, 3,760 kilometers west of the Chilean mainland, and 2,000 kilometers southeast of the closest other inhabited island.
This extreme geographic isolation has led these waters to have the second highest rate of endemism in shore fishes in Oceania with 22 per cent of the 126 species restricted to the ocean surrounding Rapa Nui.

Local Species
A wide variety of nesting sea birds exist on Rapa Nui and surrounding islands including the masked booby (Sula dactylatra), grey noddy (Procelstrena albivitta), and the great and lesser frigatebird (Fregata minor and F. ariel).

Indo-Pacific species comprise 70 per cent of the fish in these waters; fish families with the highest diversity are Labridae, Muraenidae, Holocentridae, Balistidae, Serranidae, Carangidae, Scorpaenidae, Pomacentridae, Pomacentridae, and Kyphsidea.

Several newly discovered species of fish include a Scorpion fish, Rhinopias cea, and Scrawled filefish (Alutera scripta). The dusky dolphin (Lagenorhynchus obscurus) also exists here.

This region has numerous unique mollusk species in the intertidal areas, including the newly discovered genus of Pontocypridid (Peripontocypris), the recently discovered Pendunculate barnacle, Neolepas rapanuii, and the first sessile barnacle from a deep-sea hydrothermal vent on a mid ocean ridge.

The island has been impacted by unregulated grazing, clearing for agriculture, and development activities. Tourism is the largest industry on the island, and the use of National Park land for the construction of hotels, as well as the construction of a major port threaten the quality of these marine habitats.



Habitat type:
Tropical Coral

Geographic Location:
Southeastern Pacific

Conservation Status:
Relatively Stable/Intact

Quiz Time!

Despite its extreme geographical isolation, do people still inhabit this Island?

People have lived on Rapa Nui for more than 1,600 years. Scientists have found evidence of extensive deforestation and soil erosion, which indicates that a massive ecological disaster occurred, probably due to deforestation, soil depletion, and overpopulation, which caused the human population to crash in about 1600.

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