Highlights of Mariana Trench Marine National Monument:
- The Mariana Trench is the deepest canyon on Earth.
- The deep sea areas hold remarkable geological features, including a lake of liquid boiling sulfur—one of only two known on Earth.
- The monument is the only place on Earth with huge active mud volcanoes, one of which spans more than 31 miles across.
- Acidic hydrothermal vents along the Mariana Trench provide a laboratory for the study of ocean acidification and its effects on fragile coral reefs.
In January 2009, U.S. President George W. Bush designated three areas in the Pacific Ocean as marine national monuments. At the time, this was the largest act of marine conservation in history.
The largest of these protected areas—spanning 95,000 square miles (246,000 square kilometers) —lies along the east side of the Northern Mariana Islands, a string of 15 islands located 1,400 miles south of Japan. These islands comprise the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands and Guam.
The unspoiled waters surrounding these islands are home to sharks, whales, dolphins and colorful deep-water fish. More than two dozen species of seabirds inhabit the area, along with several species of endangered and threatened populations of sea turtles, a variety of marine mammals and giant coconut crabs, the largest land living arthropod.
Spectacular volcanic undersea vents, also known as “smokers,” support a wide variety of unique marine life, including some of the oldest organisms on Earth. Also found here is the Mariana Trench, the world’s deepest, in which Mount Everest could fit with a mile of water to spare.
Josh Reichert, managing director of Pew, discusses the significance of the Mariana Trench Marine National Monument.
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