FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 15, 2006
Contact: Ben Sherman, NOAA Public Affairs
A panel of experts that includes renowned ocean explorer and former NOAA Chief Scientist Sylvia A. Earle has named the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Marine National Monument (NWHI Monument) one of the “new seven wonders of the world.” The selection of the NWHI Monument was announced today by the American Broadcasting Company and USA Today, who convened a special panel of experts to make the selections.
“NOAA is thrilled that a respected panel of experts has recognized that the NWHI Monument is a natural and cultural treasure worthy of selection as one of the new seven wonders of the world,” said retired Navy Vice Admiral Conrad C. Lautenbacher, undersecretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator. “As the world’s largest marine conservation area, the NWHI Monument provides permanent protection and conservation for the relatively undisturbed wildlife and coral reefs of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands.”
The Northwestern Hawaiian Islands are home to 7,000 marine species, of which approximately a quarter are unique to the Hawaiian Island chain. Among the species found there are the endangered Hawaiian monk seal, threatened green sea turtle, and endangered leatherback and hawksbill sea turtles. The island chain also contains some of the world’s most untouched submerged cultural resources. The NWHI Monument, which stretches 1,400 hundred miles and span 140,000 square miles.
In addition to its ecological importance, the region is rich in its cultural history and is a place of deep cultural significance for Native Hawaiians. These early seafarers inhabited the region for more than 700 years prior to its discovery by the western world. Today, Native Hawaiians continue to maintain strong cultural ties to the lands and seas, as documented in their own oral and written histories, mythologies, proverbs, songs and dances.
The NOAA National Marine Sanctuary Program seeks to increase the public awareness of America’s marine resources and maritime heritage by conducting scientific research, monitoring, exploration and educational programs. Today, the sanctuary program manages 13 national marine sanctuaries and one marine national monument that together encompass more than 150,000 square miles of America’s ocean and Great Lakes natural and cultural resources.
In 2007, NOAA, an agency of the U.S. Commerce Department, celebrates 200 years of science and service to the nation. From the establishment of the Survey of the Coast in 1807 by Thomas Jefferson to the formation of the Weather Bureau and the Bureau of Commercial Fisheries in the 1870s, much of America's scientific heritage is rooted in NOAA.
NOAA is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events and information service delivery for transportation, and by providing environmental stewardship of our nation's coastal and marine resources. Through the emerging Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS), NOAA is working with its federal partners, more than 60 countries and the European Commission to develop a global monitoring network that is as integrated as the planet it observes, predicts and protects.
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