October 2012

The Cook Islands Creates the World’s Largest Marine Park

Muri Beach on Raratonga in the Cook IslandsMuri Beach on Raratonga in the Cook Islands

Muri Beach on Raratonga in the Cook Islands
Muri Beach is on the island of Rarotonga in the Cook Islands.

When you think of a park, you might think of a place with many trees. A park can also be a place where you can ride on swings or go down a slide. Some parks are areas of land that are protected, or taken care of. A new park in the Cook Islands protects an area of ocean instead of land. This kind of park is called a marine park.

The Cook Islands is in the southern part of the Pacific Ocean near New Zealand. It is made up of 15 small islands. The islands take up only about 93 square miles. Yet the Cook Islands is surrounded by many miles of ocean.

Prime Minister Henry Puna is the leader of the Cook Islands. He announced in August that the Cook Islands was going to protect part of the ocean around its islands. The Cook Islands started a marine park that covers more than 400,000 square miles of ocean. The park is larger than the countries of France and Germany put together.

Many animals and plants live in the ocean around the Cook Islands. The marine park helps these animals and plants survive. The park also helps protect the ocean’s coral reefs and seagrass meadows. These provide food and shelter for many sea animals.

People can still fish some areas of the marine park, but they must do so responsibly. Visitors can also enjoy the marine park. There are areas to swim and watch sea animals. The Cook Islands marine park and other parks like it are helping protect the ocean for the future.

Image credit: ©Christian Heeb/laif/Redux Pictures
Question 1
Where is the Cook Islands?

Question 2
What does a marine park protect?

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