Trinity University Press

The Last Atoll

Exploring Hawai‘i’s Endangered Ecosystems

Pamela Frierson (author)

A groundbreaking exploration of the unknown, outermost reaches of the Hawaiian archipelago

The Last Atoll is Pamela Frierson’s decade-long exploration of the least known part of Hawai‘i—the islands, atolls, and reefs at the far northwestern end of the archipelago. In travels that span over 1,200 miles, Frierson chronicles natural wonders and a troubled history, ending up at Kure Atoll, the most ancient Hawaiian landfall and the northernmost atoll on earth. Hers is an adventurous journey across the geology, biology, and human-use patterns of a fragile—and critical—environment.


  • Winner of Elliott Cades Award for lifetime achievement
  • Winner of Foreword Reviews Book of the Year Awards - GOLD for Ecology & Environment
  • Runner Up Green Book Festival Awards - General Non-Fiction


The Last Atoll draws a vivid portrait of what might just be my favorite place on Earth (and that’s saying something), the secret islands Northwest of Hawaii. It’s a place that still feels like the original world, like Earth before us. There the nations are of seabirds, the world is almost entirely ocean, and the air roars with the calls of them in their millions. It feels like Life at full burn. But as Pamela Frierson’s work shows, there is much more, even, than first greets the eye.”

Carl Safina

“As with her previous book, The Burning Island, Pamela Frierson again takes readers to one of the most remote and ecologically fragile places on the planet. Gracefully written in the tradition of Rachel Carson, The Last Atoll is a personal trek to a chain of tiny, northwest Hawaiian islands, where Frierson brings us nose-to-nose with endangered Hawaiian monk seals, coral polyps, green sea turtles, and golden gooneys—alongside the fossils of long-extinct species, the bones of animals on the edge of vanishing, and the ravages of guano mining, coal dredging, and military bases. The Last Atoll skillfully travels through myth, culture, and history, and arrives at present-day attempts to preserve islands that are as biologically significant as the Galápagos.”

Frank Stewart

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The Last Atoll cover
  • Price: $16.95 buy »
  • Pages: 328
  • Size: 5.5 x 8.25
  • Published: Jun 2012
  • Status: Available
  • ISBN: 9781595341303
  • Price: $16.95
  • Published: Aug 2012
  • Status: Available
  • ISBN: 9781595341242


Regional, Environment, Nature