An astronaut aboard the International Space Station took this photograph of Mōkapu Peninsula along the east coast of O’ahu, Hawaii. O’ahu—the third-largest Hawaiian island—is also referred to as “the gathering place” due to the island’s large population of more than 876,000 people.
The United States Marine Corps Base Hawaii, formerly known as the Naval Air Station Kāne’ohe Bay, spans most of the peninsula. Next to the military base is a tuff ring crater called Ulupa’u Head that belongs to the lower part of the Honolulu volcanic series. A sequence of historically used fishing ponds separates the peninsula from the mainland of O’ahu.
A sandbar northwest of the peninsula serves as a barrier between Kāne’ohe Bay and the Pacific Ocean. The sandbar protects the bay’s patch reefs, a coral reef ecosystem consisting of submerged patches of finger and rice coral. The coral provides habitat for numerous species including scalloped hammerhead sharks. Adult sharks use the shallow waters of Kāne’ohe Bay to give birth while juvenile sharks dwell in the depths.
Moku o Lo’e, an island in Kāne’ohe Bay, is home to the University of Hawai’i Institute of Marine Biology. The institute offers tours that include stops at an invertebrate touch table, shark enclosures, and coral reef research facilities.
Offshore Mōkapu Peninsula, in Kailua Bay and the Pacific Ocean, are small islets that are also seabird sanctuaries: Mōkōlea Rock, Moku Manu, and Kekepa. These secluded islands preserve native plants and provide shelter for native birds like the red-tailed tropicbird, also known as koa’e’ula.
Astronaut photograph ISS067-E-315691 was acquired on August 27, 2022, with a Nikon D5 digital camera using a focal length of 1150 millimeters. It is provided by the ISS Crew Earth Observations Facility and the Earth Science and Remote Sensing Unit, Johnson Space Center. The image was taken by a member of the Expedition 67 crew. The image has been cropped and enhanced to improve contrast, and lens artifacts have been removed. The International Space Station Program supports the laboratory as part of the ISS National Lab to help astronauts take pictures of Earth that will be of the greatest value to scientists and the public, and to make those images freely available on the Internet. Additional images taken by astronauts and cosmonauts can be viewed at the NASA/JSC Gateway to Astronaut Photography of Earth. Caption by Francesca Filippone, Texas State University, JETS Contract at NASA-JSC.