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| Earth on Jun 23, 2014

Gorgeous photos of the Pacific Remote Islands

The Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument may become one of the world’s largest marine protected areas.

On Tuesday, June 17, 2014, President Obama announced a proposal to create one of the world’s largest marine sanctuaries in the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument. The proposal recommends that the current protected area be expanded from nearly 87,000 square miles to approximately 782,000 square miles. This would effectively double the area of ocean that is fully protected from activities such as fishing and energy exploration, according to the Washington Post.

The Pacific Remote Islands National Marine Monument is located in the Central Pacific Ocean. It is composed of seven atolls and islands. According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) (pdf):

These areas represent the last refugia for fish and wildlife species rapidly vanishing from the remainder of the planet, including sea turtles, dolphins, whales, pearl oysters, giant clams, coconut crabs, large groupers, sharks, humphead wrasses, and bumphead parrotfishes. Fish biomass at these islands is remarkable and double that found in Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument, and orders of magnitude greater than the reefs near heavily populated islands. Expansive shallow coral reefs and deep coral forests—with some corals up to 5,000 years old—are found here. These small dots of land in the midst of the ocean are vital nesting habitat for millions of seabirds and resting habitat for migratory shorebirds.

The Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument was created by President George W. Bush on January 6, 2009.

Below are some photos of the Pacific Remote Islands for your enjoyment.

Strawn Island Lagoon. Image Credit: Laura M. Beauregard, USFWS.

Strawn Island Lagoon. Image Credit: Laura M. Beauregard, USFWS.

Coral garden at the Palmyra Atoll National Wildlife Refuge. Image Credit: Jim Maragos, USFWS.

Coral garden at the Palmyra Atoll National Wildlife Refuge. Image Credit: Jim Maragos, USFWS.

Hermit crab on Howland Island National Wildlife Refuge. Image Credit: USFWS.

Hermit crab on Howland Island National Wildlife Refuge. Image Credit: USFWS.

Palmyra Atoll. Image Credit: Erik Oberg, Island Conservation.

Palmyra Atoll. Image Credit: Erik Oberg, Island Conservation.

School of manini at Kingman Reef National Wildlife Refuge. Image Credit: Kydd Pollock, USFWS.

School of manini at Kingman Reef National Wildlife Refuge. Image Credit: Kydd Pollock, USFWS.

Brown bobbies on old pier posts at the Johnston Atoll. Image Credit: Lindsey Hayes, USFWS.

Brown boobies on old pier posts at the Johnston Atoll. Image Credit: Lindsey Hayes, USFWS.

Blacktip sharks at Kingman Reef National Wildlife Refuge. Image Credit: Kydd Pollock, USFWS.

Blacktip sharks at Kingman Reef National Wildlife Refuge. Image Credit: Kydd Pollock, USFWS.

Green sea turtle in swimming off the Pacific Remote Islands. Image Credit: Kydd Pollock, USFWS.

Green sea turtle swimming off the Pacific Remote Islands. Image Credit: Kydd Pollock, USFWS.

Pacific blue tang. Image Credit: Jim Maragos, USFWS.

Pacific blue tang. Image Credit: Jim Maragos, USFWS.

Coral at Jarvis Island National Wildlife Refuge. Image Credit: Jim Maragos, USFWS.

Coral at Jarvis Island National Wildlife Refuge. Image Credit: Jim Maragos, USFWS.

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