FROM THE PRESIDENT
A Monumental Day for Our Oceans
Written by Dr. Nigella Hillgarth
What an extraordinary day for our oceans.
I’m writing this from Washington, D.C., while attending the third annual Our Ocean Conference. To be standing in a room filled with those from across the globe who share the Aquarium’s mission to be a steward of the world’s oceans is both heartening and inspiring. I was honored to be present when President Obama, formally designating the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts a national monument, said, “We cannot truly protect our planet without protecting our oceans.”
When the president walked into the room to a standing ovation, the atmosphere was electric and a spontaneous shout of “aloha” rang out from the audience.
Our Ocean is hosted by Secretary of State John Kerry, a lifelong ocean advocate and longtime Aquarium friend. In his remarks introducing the president, Secretary Kerry spoke of his deep and abiding commitment to the oceans. He made Massachusetts proud.
The designation of the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument is a win for science, a win for vibrant oceans, and, perhaps most important, a win for future generations. Located approximately 150 miles off the southeast coast of Cape Cod, the 4,913 square miles of underwater canyons and seamounts represents the first marine monument on the East Coast.
Decades of research by Aquarium scientists and colleagues across institutions confirmed that this area is a diverse series of rich ecosystems. Imagine an area beneath the surface of the Atlantic where mountains rise as high as 7,000 feet from the ocean floor and canyons plunge as deep as the Grand Canyon. The diverse habitats, with cold, nutrient-rich waters, are home to deep-sea corals, and provide food and shelter to a wealth of marine life that in turn provide nourishment to seabirds and endangered and threatened sea turtles and whales.
This refuge for ocean life is a thriving biodiversity hot spot and serves as a living marine laboratory that will continue to enhance our understanding of the ocean environment and our relationship to it for generations to come.
Today is an exciting and important step in helping to protect and restore the health and vitality of our oceans. We appreciate the Obama administration’s historic efforts on behalf of the blue planet.