The web of life that depends on the health of coral reefs extends from microscopic algae and polyps to relative giants of the sea like the green turtle. In fact, a reef supports an abundance of sea life and the most unusual thing about the one at Palmyra Atoll is the relative abundance of predators. "It's an inverted pyramid with more predators in terms of biomass," notes William Chandler, vice president for government affairs at the Marine Conservation Biology Institute. Adds marine conservation scientist Dan Brumbaugh of the American Museum of Natural History's Center for Biodiversity and Conservation: "People are surprised that there's enough prey to support all these big sharks and big [predatory fish] that are swimming around. We're still trying to figure that out."

Slide Show: Fish, Birds and Other Larger Fauna