Marine Sanctuary: First in U.S. Sanctuary System Was Shipwreck, in 1975
Considering that the largest marine protected area in the world was established in March 2015 in the Pitcairn Islands -- 322,000 square miles in the middle of the Pacific Ocean -- it might be time to talk about the first marine protected area in the United States' National Marine Sanctuary System, the USS Monitor, established on January 30, 1975, according to a release.
The Monitor is a shipwreck, and was a certain type of U.S. Civil War ironclad warship. The sanctuary around it extends for one square mile, 16 miles southeast of Cape Hatteras, N.C. The ship sank in 1862 and became a thriving artificial reef.
At this point, NOAA researchers are interested in learning more about the water quality and marine area of the site. In 2006, a data buoy installed by NOAA in the sanctuary began delivering monitored weather and sea conditions to scientists and the public 24 hours a day.
The sanctuary's management focuses on keeping the wreck in good condition, recovering artifacts and ship components, and keeping the ship from being damaged by human vessel anchoring and fishing.
In most cases, people can only access the Monitor with a NOAA permit to do scientific research; some permits are also issued as special-use, in order to provide non-research explorations of the ship.
Marine Preserves: More Must Be Done to Protect Ocean
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