Thursday, January 8, 2009

Marianas Trench Marine National Monument

I may not have been a strong Bush supporter, but he has, in the last days of his office, invoked the Antiquities Act of 1906 to preserve a vast area of the ocean in our neighborhood, which are the islands north of Saipan and the 5 mile deep Marianas Trench to our east. It's a time to celebrate environmental conservation and hope that with greater awareness, tourism to the Marianas will expand.

"The Mariana Trench and Islands – discovered by Ferdinand Magellan and located in the far western Pacific this U.S. position is the site of the Mariana Trench, at 36,000 feet, the deepest canyon on the globe. If Mt. Everest were dropped into the Trench, there would still be more than a mile of water above it. More than 95,000 sq. miles in area, this monument protects some of the most diverse and remarkable underwater features on the globe. Features of the Mariana region include a boiling pool of liquid sulfur (the first pool was discovered on Io, one of Jupiter’s moons), liquid carbon dioxide that bubbles up through fractured lava, and dense beds of chemosynthetic life covering submarine crater walls. The area represents the only place on Earth with huge, active mud volcanoes, one more than 31 miles across. These unusual features are believed to harbor some of the oldest known life on the DNA tree.

Highly acidic hydrothermal vents in the area and along the Trench provide a unique natural laboratory for the study of ocean acidification and its effects on coral reefs and shallow water sea life. The only marine mammal survey undertaken in the area found 19 species including several rare species of beaked whales. On land there is the endangered Micronesian megapode (the only bird known to use volcanic heat to incubate its eggs), threatened fruit bats, and more than a dozen species of migratory seabirds with a breeding population over 200,000 and giant coconut crabs (the largest land-living arthropod in the world)."


Caption: A tremendous mussel biomass adorns the lava ridges at the crest of submarine NW Eifuku volcano north of Uracus near the proposed monument. These seven inch mussels are so densely massed that they obscure the bottom. The white galatheid crabs are 2.5 inches long.
Credit: Image courtesy of the NOAA Submarine Ring of Fire 2004 Exploration and the NOAA Vents Program

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I am proud of Angelo Villagomez from the past. I am proud of u too russ quinn.