The Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument off the coast of Hawaii is getting a heckuva lot bigger.
On August 26, 2016, U.S. President Barack Obama expanded the underwater marine national park, making it four times as big and creating the world’s largest marine protected area.
The new park will be expanded by 442,781 square miles/1,146,798 square kilometers, bringing the total protected area of the expanded monument to 582,578 square miles/1,508,870 square kilometers.
So if you’re a freediver or scuba diver, the new expansion permanently protects pristine coral reefs in the waters off the Northwest Hawaiian Islands. The area is also a waypoint for 24 different whale and dolphin species, along with green, hawksbill, leatherback, loggerhead, and olive ridley turtles.
To get an idea of how big this new park will be, check out the National Geographic video below. If you want to read the full presidential proclamation, go to whitehouse.gov.