Alaska's Rare Coral Gardens Get Federal Protection

Federal ruling prohibits bottom trawling on 370,000 square miles of Alaskan coral.

A new federal ruling protects 370,000 square miles of Alaska's rare coral gardens. The rule prohibits bottom trawling on the ocean floor, making it the largest protected marine habitat in the United States, even larger than the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, which were also recently declared a national monument.

The rule protects 320,000 square miles in the Aleutian Islands (an area approximately the size of Texas and Colorado combined) and 50,000 square miles are in the Gulf of Alaska.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the cold-water coral gardens, similar to ones found in the tropics, have been found nowhere else on Earth.