The First Marine Park in the Atlantic Ocean Has Underwater Canyons and Volcanoes
The underwater oasis is “like a walk through Dr. Seuss’s garden.”
President Obama has designated the first marine national monument in the Atlantic Ocean, which will protect 4,913 square miles of underwater terrain off the coast of New England.
The newly named Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument is home to underwater canyons and extinct volcanoes, with rifts that delve deeper than the Grand Canyon and heights that soar more than 7,000 feet.
The area is incredibly biodiverse, hosting a range of endangered and rare species including turtles, whales, dolphins, and deep-sea fish.
Its series of deep-water corals and sponges “look like a walk through Dr. Seuss’s garden,” Peter Auster, senior research scientist at the Mystic Aquarium and research professor emeritus at the University of Connecticut, told National Geographic.
Obama highlighted the need to protect oceanic territory from threats like climate change and unsustainable fishing practices.
“We cannot truly protect our planet without protecting our oceans,” he said.
The new designation will include a ban on commercial fishing, mining, and drilling in the monument, though lobster and red crab suppliers will have a total of seven years before the ban takes affect.
Recreational fishing will still be permissible in the monument.
Though fishermen are concerned on the affect the ban will have on their business, supporters believe the protection will allow for crucial species in the environment to survive and thrive.
Obama also recently established the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument in Hawaii, and has protected more square miles of land and sea than any other president in history to date.
Talia Avakian is a digital reporter at Travel + Leisure. Follow her on Twitter at @TaliaAvak.