British Indian Ocean Territory Marine Protected Area
Location: Center of the Indian Ocean
Size: 640,000 km2 or 397,667 mi2
Currently the largest marine protected area in the world, the British Indian Ocean MPA includes the world's largest coral atoll, the Great Chagos Bank, and 55 tiny islands in quarter of a million square miles of the world's cleanest seas. The waters of the Chagos Archipelago also include an exceptional diversity of deepwater habitats formed by the separation of tectonic plates, fracture zones, sea-floor spreading, sea-mounts and ridges, deep trenches, and vast deep-sea plains. The archipelago is host to a rich wildlife biodiversity, containing at least 220 coral species and over 1000 species of fish. It is also a refuge and breeding ground for large and important populations of sharks, dolphins, marine turtles, rare crabs, birds and other vulnerable marine and island species. As a fully protected area the Chagos Islands provide a global scientific reference site for research in crucial areas such as ocean acidification, coral reef resilience, sea level rise, fish stock decline, and climate change.