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Sharks and Dolphins: New Zealand Announces New Marine Preserve

Sep 28, 2015 06:09 PM EDT
Thresher shark
New Zealand has committed to create one of the world's largest fully protected marine preserves.
(Photo : Arun Katiyar)

New Zealand's prime minister John Key just announced at the United Nations that the country will create one of the world's largest fully protected marine preserves in the Kermadec region. It will be 239,383 square miles, which is twice the size of New Zealand itself, according to a release.

This area of volcanic islands is located in aquamarine South Pacific waters, about 620 miles northeast of the country's North Island. The surrounding ocean is home to more than 150 fish species and blue, mako, thresher and Galapagos sharks. It has the deepest ocean floor in the Southern Hemisphere and more than 50 underwater volcanoes, noted the release.

The area also serves as an important pathway for migrating marine mammals circuiting between warm and cooler waters, the release said.

In making the announcement, New Zealand is expanding a smaller reserve established in 1990, as a release noted.

By doing so, "New Zealand will create the gold standard of conservation areas in the Kermadecs, preserving one of the few relatively unspoiled areas of ocean on Earth," Matt Rand, Pew Trust's Global Ocean Legacy campaign's director, said in a release from that non-governmental organization. "This commitment is an exciting step toward meeting global goals to safeguard at least 30 percent of the ocean through fully protected marine reserves."

Because of the area's deep Kermadec-Tonga trench, the second-deepest on Earth, many species are yet to be known there. About 35 whale and dolphin species pass through, and maybe 6 million seabirds breed there each year, as the release stated.

If you'd like to learn more about the Kermadec preserve, go to the New Zealand government website.

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