130 Scientists From Around the World Support Mariana Trench Sanctuary

Ancient drawings on caves on Rota show the ancient link between the Chamorro people and the ocean.

This letter was submitted during the public comment period for the five year review of the proposed national marine sanctuary in the Mariana Islands.  Scientists from around the world commented to bring attention to the scientific merit for the accepting the nomination.

Kristina Kekuewa
Pacific Islands Regional Director
NOAA Office of National Marine Sanctuaries
1845 Wasp Blvd.
Honolulu, Hawaii 96818

Dear Regional Director Kekuewa,

We are scientists who write to you in support of accepting the nomination of the proposed national marine sanctuary in the Northern Mariana Islands.  We were invited to sign this letter by Indigenous scientists from the Mariana Islands.  The nomination package that was submitted by the Friends of the Mariana Trench builds a strong case that this region of the United States meets or exceeds the 11 sanctuary nomination process criteria used in determining sanctuary eligibility.  The nomination should be accepted and community outreach and engagement should continue with the people living on all the islands of the Mariana Archipelago, including Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands.

There is a strong scientific case for a proposed national marine sanctuary in the Mariana Islands.  In recent years small scale surveys conducted by the Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center have identified fourteen species of cetaceans present in these waters.  In 2020, NOAA researchers determined that Saipan served as a breeding ground for endangered humpback whales, essential habitat for animals that migrant as far away as the Philippines, Russia, and Japan.  The region is also home to wandering turtles and whale sharks, and serves as a pit stop for many migrating species.

The Mariana Trench is still one of the most unexplored habitats in the world.   It is the deepest trench in the world containing an array of different ecosystems including underwater volcanoes, abyssal plains, and hydrothermal vents. These mysterious habitats allow researchers to learn about unique processes that involve adaptation to extreme conditions. Scientists can also uncover human impacts in one of the most exclusive parts of the ocean. NOAA conducted an expedition on the Okeanos Explorer in 2016 to obtain baseline data for unknown and poorly documented regions surrounding the trench. During their cruise, hundreds of different species were observed through remote-operated vehicles.

We encourage you to use this data, and the scientific research compiled by the Friends of the Mariana Trench, when you consider the 5 year review of the proposed sanctuary.  We encourage you to keep the nomination on the inventory.

Thank you for your consideration.


Angelo Villagomez

Adam Davies

Alannah Rivers

Alessandro Ponzo

Amanda To

Amelia Keyser-Gibson

Ana Contreras

Analee Villagomez

Andrea Gori

Andrew Clark

Andrew Kornblatt

Andrew Lewin

Andrew Remsen

Annette Raveneau

Anson Antriasian

Ariane Buckenmeyer

Blaine Asbury

Brian RC Kennedy

Caroline Tribble

Casey Darling Kniffin

Cassandra Brooks

Chad Nelsen

Charles Bangley

Charlotte Seid

Christine Albanese

Christine Byrum

Christine Laney

Ciara Ratum

Courtney Murren

David Butterfield

David S Shiffman

Dawn Wright

Diva Amon

Dr. Adriana Moreira

Dr. Andrew M. Shedlock

Dr. Beth N. Orcutt

Dr. Christa Chatfield

Dr. Katy Croff Bell

Dr. Roberta H Hunter

Dr. Sebastian Echeverri, PhD

Dwain Qalovaki

Elisandre Ardeo

Emma McCully

Emma Rhodes

Erik Sotka

Erin Tate

Evagoras A. Isaias

Evan Fricke

Fran Castro

Giacomo DiTullio

Giovanni Seijo

Giulia Champion

Gorka Sancho

Greg Jones

Haley Randall

Hannah Craft

Hazel Anderson

Heather Fullerton

Ignacio V. Cabrera

Irene Sant'Ambrogio

Isa Schreyer

Jaclyn Torkelson

Jade Prowse

Jeff Sha

Jenna Valente

Jesse Czekanski-Moir

Jesse van der Grient

Jessica Buthmann

Jessica Stone

Jim Burkhart

Joana Xavier

John Starmer

Johnathan Walker

Jonathan Diamond

Julie Huber

Juliette Jacquemont

Kali Sipp

Kate Burgess

Katrina Ruff

Keiko Nomura

Kirby Pitchford

Kolby Altabet

Kristy Sills

Lauren Helton

Lauren Swaddell

Lewis Barnett

Lindsay Bonito

Lisa Coe

Lucy Kemnitzer

Mackenzie Gerringer

Madison Miketa

Maha J. Cziesielski

Malachy McCaffrey

Margot Stiles, M.Sc.

Mary Engels

Maurício Shimabukuro

Max Dunitz

Maya DeHart

Melissa Rink

Michael Freeman

Michael G. Janech, Ph.D.

Michelle Schärer

Nathan Smith

Nicole Alston

Nicole Haller-Wilson

Nicole Pittoors

Paul Amon

Peter Shum

Prof. Chris Parsons

Rachel Avila

Rachel Downey

Rachel Golden Kroner, PhD

Raegan Noellyn Ball

Riley Tollett

Ryan Smith

Samuel Naujokas

Sara García-Morales

Sarah Cooley

Sarah Wyatt

Sofia Amieva Mau

Stacy K. Baez, Ph.D.

Steven Mana'oakamai Johnson

Stewart Sarkozy-Banoczy

Susan Merle

Travis Nielsen

Will Farris

Will McClintock

Yaamini Venkataraman

Z. Schwarz


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