Did you hear the news? At the end of last week’s celebrations surrounding the centenary of the United States National Parks, President Barack Obama created the largest protected area anywhere on Earth surrounding the islands of Hawaii. And they say they do it big in Texas.

The area, totaling nearly a half-million square miles of the Pacific ocean, is home to unique marine biodiversity as well as being an important component of native Hawaiian culture.

In 2006, President George W. Bush created the beginning foundation of The Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument, protecting 140,000 square miles of uninhabited Pacific Ocean area. The expansion now covers 582,578 square miles of the ocean — the protections also prohibit commercial fishing in this new larger area of the ocean.

The size is impressive in that it has more square mileage than all of the national parks combined. Yeah. It’s pretty big.

The park is a sanctuary for many endangered species like blue whales, short-tailed albatrosses, sea turtles and Hawaiian monk seals. Which explains why we’re all super happy about this — albatrosses are awesome.

Probably the best part about this all, though, is that the United States is setting a huge precedent in conservation efforts worldwide. By creating such a large protected space, where commercial fishing and other activities aren’t allowed, the government is definitely sending a message about preservation.

So thanks a lot, Obama.

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When she is not figuring out what the middle button on her headphones is for, explaining the difference between Washington State and Washington D.C., arriving to the airport too early or refusing to use the Oxford comma, you can usually find Mary in the mountains, at a show or on her couch. Mary is a content writer at Fareportal and likes annoying her coworkers with weird GIFs throughout the day.