Governor Ige has issued a special proclamation honoring the ten-year anniversary of the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument, which was on June 15th, 2016. From now on, that day will be known as Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument Day in Hawaii. The ten year anniversary of this wellspring of Hawaiian biodiversity was a momentous occasion, and certainly worthy of the recognition that it has earned.
The monument was originally named the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Marine National Monument when it was established in 2006, and at the time, it was the largest marine protected area in the world. It was given its Hawaiian name a year later. The monument was the beginning of a new kind of conservation, large-scale marine protected areas (LSMPAs), which has been gaining momentum since. It was this monument's fantastic biodiversity and rich cultural resources.
After Papahānaumokuākea was established, 18 more LSMPAs were either formally established or government declared. The world's oceans went from just 1% protected to 3% protected. That 3% covers 10.5 million square kilometers. If it were a country, the combined size of these waters would make it the second largest in the world.
Another landmark is coming up for the monument on July 30th of this year. It will mark its six year anniversary as the nation's first and only mixed natural and cultural UNESCO World Heritage site.
If you've read our prior posts about the monument, then you'll know that exciting new species are being discovered there on a regular basis, including whole communities of unexplored reef ecosystems. It makes sense that the Northwestern Hawaiian islands would anchor such reefs, because the islands are older and older the further they are in that direction. The oldest dead volcano in the chain is estimated to be about 81 million years old, which puts its origin in the Cretaceous Period of the Mesozoic Era. That's right, dinosaurs still roamed the earth at that time. It gives you a sense of how long marine life has been established in the area, evolving and adapting to its own unique set of environmental conditions.
Today, we are lucky to enjoy the beauty and cultural significance of Hawaii's marine life. That's why our work is such a pleasure, and we love sharing these natural gifts with guests who join us on our Molokini Snorkel Tour as well as our Lanai Snorkel Tour. These experiences are unforgettable for many. We hope that in the future, you might be one of them. Mahalo!