President Obama has announced the establishment of the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument, which will provide permanent protection for Atlantic Puffins’ winter habitat, while benefiting numerous other marine species. It is the first Marine National Monument in the Atlantic Ocean.
Audubon scientists discovered earlier this year that Atlantic Puffins depend on this region of the Gulf of Maine for their wintering grounds after tracking their movements. This population includes the birds that nest along Maine’s rocky coast—a focus of Audubon’s Project Puffin. The deep canyons and undersea mountains are a biodiversity hotspot rich with life, including cold-water reefs that nurture fish and invertebrate species, which support puffins, whales, sharks, and more.
Designating this nearly 5,000 square mile-region as a national monument will limit the pressures to expand fishing, drilling, and mining in this fragile habitat. These permanent protections will help grow populations of declining lobster and commercial fish, while providing a refuge for birds and other wildlife in the face of a changing climate and other threats.