The world’s largest network of no-take marine reserves was announced today; 7 islands and atolls make up this vast area, and President Obama is taking action today to hugely expand the area protected around 3 of them. Here are 8 reasons why today’s announcement is a huge deal:
1) Protecting the ocean is bipartisan – Obama just built on President George W. Bush’s establishment of the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument in January of 2009 before he left office. Obama’s announcement today expands that network from nearly 83,000 square miles to more than 490,000 square miles, or 370,000 square nautical miles.
2) This marine monument is so big, the states of Texas, California, and New York COMBINED could fit within its borders.
3) The monument spans the International Date Line; Wake Island inhabitants celebrate New Year before most people on Earth, and Johnston Atoll is one of the last places to sing Auld Lang Syne. It’s so big it can be in two days at once.
4) There is LITERALLY no place like it on earth, because the Monument sits in all four hemispheres: north, south, east and west. It’s two different days; and winter and summer at the same time.
5) Amazing ocean animals call these islands home. Seabirds, whales, silky and oceanic whitetip sharks all live in these waters. Scientists even recently discovered a new marine mammal in this area – the Palmyra beaked whale.
6) Ocean Conservancy Board Member and National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Enric Sala calls Kingman Reef and Palmyra Atoll his laboratory. He has led numerous expeditions to Palmyra Atoll and Kingman Reef to research sharks and other apex predators that make up this pristine ecosystem. His research has helped scientists figure out what a healthy reef should look like.
7) The Monument was established using the Antiquities Act, first used by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1906, and has been used to designate the Grand Canyon, the Statue of Liberty and Devils Tower in Wyoming.
8) The Administration listened to you – yes, YOU. More than 170,000 messages were sent to the White House in support of the monument expansion – including nearly 20,000 from Ocean Conservancy members. This is your Monument!