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U.S Creates World's Largest Marine Refuge.

Last week President Barack Obama created the Atlantic Ocean's first United States Marine Monument through a Presidential order.

The Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument is about the size of the state of Connecticut and is located about 130 miles off the New England coast.

Earlier this month, President Obama expanded the area of the Papahanaumokuakea National Monument near Hawaii. This national monument located in the Pacific Ocean was initially created by President George W Bush to preserve the area surrounding the Northern Hawaiian islands. President Obama expanded the area of protection by four times and now it is the largest preserved area in the world. About twice the size of the state of Texas, the monument covers an area of 582,578 square miles.

President Obama has always been a champion of the environment. As he runs through his final months in office, these are two powerful initiatives by him to protect the oceans and sketch his environmental legacy.

Fragility Of Oceans

Did you know that 70% of planet Earth is covered by the oceans? No one knows for sure, but nearly 55 to 80% of all life on earth resides in this vast body of water!

We constantly observe and hear about how fragile animals and plants are on land. But what about the sea? Since we are unable to see much of what is below the surface of the water, we often tend to take the health of oceans and marine life for granted. However, as human population increases and more wastage is dumped into our oceans, the lives of these sea creatures is at risk.

Meanwhile oceans are critical to human survival. Half of the world's population lives along oceanic coastlines. Oceans produce more than half of the world's oxygen and absorbs a large part of our carbon emissions. However, over fishing and pollution has reduced the amazing diversity of this habitat. There has been a significant loss to aquatic species and coral reefs. Many important marine habitats are currently at risk of being destroyed permanently.

How Do National Monuments Help?

In the US, marine national monuments are protected areas where undersea drilling, mining and commercial fishing are prohibited. Scientific exploration and research programs are encouraged within the Monument's territory.

The Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument is a sanctuary for endangered species such as blue whales, short-tailed albatrosses, sea turtles and Hawaiian monk seals. It is also home to coral reefs that provide shelter to more than 7,000 species. It is estimated that more than a quarter of the creatures living in the monument are unique to the region. Many new species are being identified while many more are yet to be spotted. Besides protecting exceptional marine and bird life in the region, this monument will also help preserve native Hawaiian culture which is dependent on these oceans.

The Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National monument lies in an area of the Atlantic ocean where ocean temperatures are expected to warm thrice as fast as global averages. The monument will preserve a vast expanse of water that is home to sea canyons and underwater mountains. Endangered whales and turtles, ancient deep-sea coral and unique fishes thrive in this region.

Indeed, there is a lot that we need to do to manage our natural resources. Efforts to protect important marine habitats will certainly go a long way in preserving the diversity of our oceans as much as our lands.
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Title Annotation:Our Earth
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Sep 18, 2016
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