The day – Mystic Aquarium celebrates the protection of the New England marine monument at the White House
About 130 miles off the coast of New England, at the bottom of the Atlantic, four underwater mountains rise from the sand alongside three submarine canyons that lead deeper into the depths. About the size of Connecticut, this region of the ocean is home to the only marine national monument in the Atlantic Ocean in the United States, and until today it was in danger of being decimated by fishing, climate change and human activity.
On Friday, Mystic Aquarium executives will join President Joe Biden at the White House, where the president is expected to sign a proclamation restoring the Marine National Monument’s protections from the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts. The protections of these areas – home to whales, sharks, sea turtles and a variety of other wildlife – had been removed by former President Donald Trump.
Mystic Aquarium President and CEO Steve Coan traveled to Washington, DC on Friday to join the President as he restores protections, which will help preserve an area long known for its biodiversity; canyons and seamounts are home to deep-diving sperm whales, critically endangered North Atlantic right whales and deep-sea coral communities, as well as a variety of neighbors, such as dolphins and swordfish.
âThis is an extremely important time for anyone who cares about protecting the ocean,â Coan said ahead of his trip to the White House.
The aquarium said it has been able to share the rich marine life of the canyons and seamounts with visitors by creating an immersive exhibit of the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument that brings them to life. offers an interactive look at the region. And they hope to continue celebrating its biodiversity and promoting its protection.
Coan said the monument provides scientists at the Mystic Aquarium with a “spectacular ‘living laboratory'” that helps them better understand the ocean.
Dr Peter Auster, principal investigator at Mystic Aquarium since 2011, has spent decades studying the area that will soon be protected. His work, the aquarium said, was instrumental in the area’s designation as a National Marine Monument by former President Barack Obama.
Auster on Friday described the monument as “a diversity of otherworldly organisms” which he compared to something from a book by Dr Suess, featuring brightly colored sponges, newly discovered corals like a great coral bright yellow spiral and weird deep-sea fish. . The canyons are deeper than the Grand Canyon and the seamounts are taller than anything east of the Rocky Mountains, Auster said.
And because the region is largely untouched, scientists can observe all of these creatures in their natural habitat.
âAll of the biodiversity makes it one of those rare places in both US waters and the global ocean where marine life can unfold without human interference,â Auster said.
Auster said national marine monuments give scientists a chance to learn how an undisturbed ocean works.
âThere is always something new to discover and describe that helps us piece together how life works on our planet,â Auster said. “And the monument gives the scientific community a place to explore that is undisturbed by human activities, it shows us what the ocean would look like in so many other places if we weren’t doing so many things.”
Outside of the research world, Auster said it’s important to preserve the monument for all Americans as well.
âIt’s not just a playground for scientists,â he said. “Knowing that we have reserved this place in perpetuity as a gift to the American people, for the conservation of our natural resources, is a national tradition. And the current administration continues that great tradition.”