George's curious surprise
The 1,200 mile long chain of islands is said to host at least 7,000 species of marine life, and covers square 140,0000 miles - an area nearly the size of California.
"Since the Clinton administration, environmental campaigners had pushed for marine sanctuary status for the area", says Revkin, "and as recently as early last night they were girding for months of public debate over the proposed sanctuary rules with a few groups representing Pacific fish-processing companies and fishing fleets".
Hawaii lies at the northern edge of the zone for warm water (zooxanthellate) reef building corals. As such it may be that they have less little biodiversity than many parts of the Pacific. There may be an analogue with Bermudan corals in the Atlantic, which James Crabbe notes are "very 'vibrant', with good cover, vitality and fish life", although there are no branching corals.
The administration's move looks astute. It appears bold but is likely to cost little.
[P.S. the wiki people have got to work quickly and produced this entry]