A stretch of ocean off the coast of Cape Cod more than four times the size of Rhode Island has become the first U.S. marine national monument in the Atlantic Ocean.
President Barack Obama formally announced the new 12,725-square-kilometer monument, called the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument, September 15 at the Our Ocean Conference in Washington, D.C. This designation will help protect the region’s fragile deep-sea ecosystem, which includes whales, sea turtles and corals, by gradually phasing out commercial fishing, including for crab and lobster, Obama said.
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“In these waters, the Atlantic Ocean meets the continental shelf in a region of great abundance and diversity as well as stark geological relief,” Obama said. The new monument includes underwater canyons deeper than the Grand Canyon and submerged extinct volcanoes called seamounts that are home to many species found nowhere else in the world.