Written by SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel
Environmentalists are celebrating America’s newest national monument – New England’s Coral Canyons and Seamounts marine ecosystem, located 150 miles southeast of Cape Cod, Massachusetts. President Obama declared the 6,000 sq.mi. area a national monument site on September 15, 2016.
The sea region provides food and shelter for numerous species of fish and other sea life and contains majestic seamounts rising as high as 7,000 feet from the ocean floor – higher than any mountains east of the Rockies.
Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumenthal, an advocate for the monument, said, “There is no better time than this year—the 100th anniversary of our national park system—to establish another ‘blue park’.”
Making this precious ocean site a national monument will preserve and protect it against oil and gas exploration and industrial fishing and ensure that equipment and pollution don’t damage the fragile environment.
More than 200 scientists, researchers, educators, and organizations, including the National Geographic Society, spoke out in favor of the monument designation.
“Protecting special places like this provides an especially important buffer against the impacts of climate change,” said Earthjustice President Trip Van Noppen, in reaction to the news.
Oceanographer Philippe Cousteau called it “A great day for our water planet!’
SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel learned that there are close to 75 types of coral in the Coral Canyons and Seamounts area and 1,000 different kinds of marine life.
Sea turtles, sharks and endangered sperm whales populate the pristine waters.
Wilderness advocate Arlo Hemphill said, “I think the designation is fantastic, a long-coming win for many hard-working conservationists and organizations that have fought for this for years.”
“The Inland Ocean Community is thrilled,” Vicki N. Goldstein, Founder and Director, Colorado Ocean Coalition, told SurfWriter Girls. “This new designation provides needed permanent protection in a region that has unique formations, cold water corals , and a variety of whales and other marine mammals.”
The monument got a warm welcome in other countries, too. Dr. Tomas Tomascik, former National Science Advisor for Canada’s Parks Canada Agency, said to SurfWriter Girls, “This is a great contribution by the USA to the conservation of Atlantic deep-sea coral communities and the biodiversity associated with these amazing but fragile deep-water systems.”
In addition to the scientific community, more than 300,000 people signed petitions on behalf of the Canyons/Seamounts proposal.
Such broad support for the ocean monument is something that Dr. Wallace J. Nichols, Founder of Blue Mind Life, is excited to see. His organization’s goal is to connect people to water. “Beyond economic and scientific reasons for preserving our ocean, humans have a creative and calming connection with the big blue,” he shared with SurfWriter Girls.
Coral Canyons and Seamounts is an ocean treasure not to be wasted. And, now that it is a national monument, it won’t be. Thus providing a window on the sea and on ourselves.
We are tied to the ocean. And when we go back to the sea,
whether it is to sail or to watch,
we are going back from whence we came.
– John F. Kennedy
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