The Planet’s Newest Marine Reserve

Plus, half-a-million square miles of the Pacific Ocean get protection. | By NGT Staff  
In addition to establishing a new marine monument in the Atlantic Ocean, the United States also expanded the area of the existing Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument in the Pacific Ocean, in August. The coral reefs of Papahānaumokuākea support a staggering 7,000 marine species, including these crimson bigeye soldierfish. Photo: NOAA's National Ocean Service/Flickr/Creative Commons (http://bit.ly/1jxQJMa)
In addition to establishing a new marine monument in the Atlantic Ocean, the United States also expanded the area of the existing Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument in the Pacific Ocean, in August. The coral reefs of Papahānaumokuākea support a staggering 7,000 marine species, including these crimson bigeye soldierfish. Photo: NOAA's National Ocean Service/Flickr/Creative Commons (http://bit.ly/1jxQJMa)

Last week, the U.S. got its first marine national monument in the Atlantic Ocean: a protected area covering 7,885 square kilometres (just over twice the size of Goa) that is entirely free of commercial fishing and extraction activities. The Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument, which lies off the East Coast, has four submarine volcanoes, three massive canyons, and marine life including sperm whales and bamboo corals that are “as big as jungle gyms,” according to this National Geographic report.

The U.S. now has the largest conservation area on Earth.

In August 2016, President Barack Obama also increased the area of the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument in the Pacific Ocean. It is now larger than all the other American national parks combined—a monumental feat in the year that U.S.’s National Park Service celebrates its centennial. The marine reserve now covers more than half-a-million square miles (9,37,568 square kilometres, to be precise). It is known for its importance to native Hawaiian culture and for its incredible marine life, including the rare black coral that have existed for over 4,000 years.

Papahānaumokuākea contains some of the healthiest coral reefs in the world and about 25 per cent of the creatures in the reserve are found nowhere else on Earth. As this National Geographic article points out, many, like a recently-discovered ghostly octopus, have not been identified yet.

Get a closer view of Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument in this video:

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