Obama's announcement more than quadrupled the size of the existing protected area, known as the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument, which is now 582,578 square miles (1.5 million square kilometers) -- about four times the size of California.
The waters are home to pristine coral reefs and hundreds of animals found nowhere else on Earth, including a new species of ghost octopus discovered only this year and the world's oldest living organism, black coral, which is estimated to be 4,265 years old.
Some 14 million seabirds soar over the area and make their nests on the islands, including a 65-year-old albatross named Wisdom. The area is also home to threatened green turtles and endangered Hawaiian monk seals.
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