New Ocean Monuments Give President Bush a Blue Legacy

President Bush today designated 3 new marine national monuments in the Pacific Ocean totaling more than 195,000 square miles, an area greater than Oregon and Washington combined. Together with Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument, which was established in 2006 in the northwestern Hawaiian Islands, President Bush will have designated monuments protecting 335,561 square miles of ocean, a larger area of the world’s marine environment than protected by any other person in history.

The largest of the protected areas surrounds the Northern Mariana Islands and includes the Mariana Trench, the deepest canyon on earth. The Mariana Islands monument alone protects 95,000 square miles, encompassing areas believed to harbor some of the oldest known life on the DNA tree. By itself, this monument is the third largest marine reserve in the world. Among its diverse and remarkable underwater features are the second known boiling pool of liquid sulfur (the first pool was discovered on Io, one of Jupiter’s moons); huge, active mud volcanoes — one more than 31 miles across; and highly acidic hydrothermal vents that provide a unique natural laboratory for the study of ocean acidification and its effects on coral reefs and shallow-water sea life.

PRNewswire, 5 January 2009. Full article.

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