What could be a better follow-up to an oceanography/marine biology lecture than the announcement that President Obama has created the first Marine National Monument in the Atlantic Ocean? The fact that this oceanic preserve contains some of the very seamounts and marine canyons described in Tuesday's lecture is just the icing on the cake.
Back when Barack Obama was elected president in 2008, I was quoted in an interview as saying, "I'm happy that we have a nerd in the White House once again." In his speech acknowledging the creation of the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument, hot on the heels of the expansion of the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument, President Obama shows himself to be a steward as well as a nerd. He cherishes the oceans, and he is doing what he can to protect important regions of them:
Once, not too long ago, the oceans must have seemed indestructible, but with overfishing, ocean acidification, and appalling pollution, it is evident that these once invulnerable-seeming environments are woefully fragile. The creation of protected areas is a small, but significant, step in better stewardship of the oceans, and the president deserves kudos for making it happen.
I'm going to miss him being in the White House, but I have no doubt that he will go on to a stellar career as a former President.