In a move that will double the amount of the planet’s protected oceans, the U.K. announced late last week that it is turning the Chagos Archipelago into the world’s largest marine reserve. The 55-island, U.K.-owned archipelago in the Indian Ocean contains 220 species of coral, 1,000 types of fish, 33 species of seabirds, and a number of sea turtles. Overall, the new protected zone will span 210,000 square miles in the ocean.
Of course, not everyone is happy about the U.K.’s move. Many Chagos Islands residents were forced out of their homes in the late 1960s and early 1970s to make room for a military base leased to the U.S. by the U.K. Now that the Archipelago is becoming a marine reserve, it looks increasingly unlikely that the residents will get to go back home.
Still, it’s hard not to be excited about the newly protected zone. As a result of the U.K.’s decision, commercial fishing will no longer be permitted around the islands, and an estimated 60 endangered species will be preserved.