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.
Deanna Conners is an Environmental Scientist who holds a Ph.D. in Toxicology and an M.S. in Environmental Studies. Her interest in toxicology stems from having grown up near the Love Canal Superfund Site in New York. Her current work is to provide high-quality scientific information to the public and decision-makers and to help build cross-disciplinary partnerships that help solve environmental problems. She writes about Earth science and nature conservation for EarthSky.