But the expansion was praised by groups such the Redmond, Wash.-based Marine Conservation Institute, which in May issued a report on why the remote area is so important. It's one of the few remaining large relatively pristine wild sections of the oceans, and it's crucial to preserve such areas so that we have a baseline of what a healthy ocean ecosystem is supposed to look like, according to the institute.
Those waters provides a safe haven for large predatory fishes such as tuna, swordfish, marlin and sharks, whose numbers worldwide have been reduced by 90 percent over the past half-century by overfishing, and for 19 different species of sea birds. Five different species of protected sea turtles - including the leatherback turtle, one of the world's largest marine reptiles, which is in danger of extinction - use the waters as migratory and feeding grounds, according to the institute.
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The sea bottom itself is also crucial. The expanded preserve would include an estimated 241 undersea mountains, which typically are hotspots of biodiversity, including potentially thousands of species that have yet to be discovered by scientists.