By David Biello
With a stroke of his pen, former President George W. Bush created three new marine monuments some 2.5 times larger than the entire U.S. national park system. The ocean reserves in the remote Pacific are bigger than Texas—335,000 square miles (540,000 square kilometers) of ocean in all concentrated around U.S.-controlled islands—and "the largest conservation area ever protected anywhere on Earth," says William Chandler, vice president for government affairs at the Marine Conservation Biology Institute.
"The important lesson that Bush seemed to understand is that the ocean does have unique places that are worth protecting," he adds. "It's not just one homogenous body of water out there.
Slide Show: Palmyra and Scientists
Slide Show: Life on the Reef
Slide Show: Fish, Birds and Other Larger Fauna