The newly-protected area, located off the coast of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, is an underwater expanse of canyons and mountains. The designation of the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument addresses the immediate ecological needs of the area, which is projected to warm nearly three times faster than the global average, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council.
Today’s designation will protect 4,913 square miles of marine habitat—that’s roughly the size of Connecticut! Like much of the Atlantic’s deep-sea canyons, including some areas deeper than the Grand Canyon, this area is largely uncharted. Atlantic deep-sea canyons have only been explored since the 1970s, so new species of coral and deep-sea fauna are being discovered every day! The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration considers these underwater mountains to be biodiversity hotspots, meaning they are home to a wide variety of rare and endangered species.
Whales, sea turtles and deep-sea corals—some of which date back more than 4,000 years, making them the oldest known living marine organisms—inhabit the area. The new federal protections limit harmful commercial practices, such as fishing, shipping transit and oil retrieval.
This designation comes shortly after the President announced the expansion of an existing marine monument in the Pacific. Under President Obama’s administration, the amount of North America’s protected ocean areas has increased by 20 times.
To learn more about today’s announcement, click here.
To learn more about the Hawaiian Marine Monument expansion, click here.