Deep in the oceans exist some of the world's oldest and most mysterious sea canyons and mountains, or seamounts. Formed millions of years ago by extinct volcanoes and sediment erosion, sea canyons and seamounts are biodiversity hot spots — home to many rare and endangered species.
Today, President Obama designated the first marine national monument in the Atlantic Ocean, the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument. The new national monument will provide critical protections for important ecological resources and marine species, including deep-sea corals; sperm, fin, and sei whales; Kemp's ridley sea turtles; and, deep-sea fish. The monument, which encompasses 4,913 square miles, has been the subject of scientific exploration and discovery since the 1970s. In addition to preserving these resources for future generations, the designation will complement other marine stewardship efforts, including advances in fisheries management.