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For this project, Middleton and Liittschwager gained unprecedented access to photograph on and around these protected islands that are otherwise completely off-limits to people. Home to nearly seventy percent of our nation's coral reefs, known as the "rainforests of the sea," the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands is a remarkable ecosystem that supports a vast array of interdependent native plants and animals that have evolved in this habitat over millions of years, many existing nowhere else on the planet.
The result is Archipelago. With its more than 300 stunning images, the book illustrates the spectacular diversity of these ocean and island creatures, as well as profiles many of the people dedicated to the preservation of this habitat. The inaccessibility of these islands and the need to protect them means that few people will ever be able to visit them in person, though now, for the first time, the area's inhabitants are available for all the world to see through this important body of work. In conjunction with the publication of Archipelago, exhibitions of these photographs will be mounted in Honolulu and Washington, and will then travel to venues around the country throughout 2006.