Image via ShutterstockHawaii Just Created a Huge Ocean Reserve Mary Zakheim August 29, 2016 Sustainable Tourism, Travel News 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. President Obama just quadrupled the size of a national marine monument off northwestern Hawaii. https://t.co/rlmF5ZC7Ze — National Geographic (@NatGeo) August 26, 2016 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. This September, scientists surveyed the deep reefs of #Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. What they found was amazing: a high abundance of species found only in the Hawaiian Islands and specimens and photographs of potential new species of fish, algae, and invertebrates! #EarthIsBlue #Ocean #Hawaii #Reef #CoralReef #Diving A video posted by US National Marine Sanctuaries (@noaasanctuaries) on Nov 27, 2015 at 12:06pm PST 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. Thanks to all the hard work of so many people working to expand the Monument, endangered Hawaiian monk seals like this one will continue to enjoy a morning swim through the coral reef at #papahānaumokuākea! Congratulations! [Photo by: Mark Sullivan/NOAA Hawaiian Monk Seal Research Program] A photo posted by Bishop Museum (@bishopmuseum) on Aug 26, 2016 at 3:12am PDT The size is impressive in that it has more square mileage than all of the national parks combined. Yeah. It’s pretty big. #BREAKING: President Obama quadruples the #Papahānaumokuākea marine monument in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, expanding the protected area to 582,578 square miles, the largest in the world! #MahaloObama #BlueParks #ThanksObama #OurOcean #Hawaii Photo by Janet Chase A photo posted by Ocean Conservancy (@oceanconservancy) on Aug 26, 2016 at 6:18am PDT 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. Success! The #papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument is expanding! This expansion will help protect 600,000 square miles of important habitat for a variety of animals and marine organisms! Great news for Midway and the other Northwest Hawaiian Islands and all the residents who call them home! #expandpmnm #whitetern #nwhi #northwesthawaiianislands #protecthawaiianwildlife #mpa Photo by Dan Clark/USFWS A photo posted by Friends of Midway NWR (@friendsofmidwaynwr) on Aug 26, 2016 at 8:10am PDT 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. The world’s largest protected area, Hawaii’s Papahānaumokuākea, also happens to be one of the most biologically and culturally significant places on the planet. See for yourself. #Hawaii #nationalmonument #aloha #Papahānaumokuākea #ocean #conservation #marinereserves #mahaloObama #dolphins #rainbow #beach A video posted by Pew Environment (@pewenvironment) on Aug 26, 2016 at 6:58am PDT So thanks a lot, Obama.