• 1. Have a whole-class discussion about the importance of the Mariana Trench.
    Explain to students that in 2009, approximately 506,000 square kilometers (195,000 square miles) of ocean were declared a protected marine reserve. This includes the Mariana Trench, which is now part of the Marianas Trench Marine National Monument. Fishing and mining are now barred in that area. Scientific research is still allowed with a federal permit. Ask: What important resources might exist in the Trench? Why is the Mariana Trench important to preserve?

    2. Have students read the handout about the establishment of the Marianas Trench Marine National Monument.

    Distribute copies of the handout and explain to students that this is a summary of part of a proclamation by a former president of the United States. Have students read the handout independently.

    3. Have a whole-class discussion about why it is important to preserve the Mariana Trench and the area surrounding it.
    Have a whole-class discussion. Ask:

    • What is unique about the physical geography of the Mariana Trench? (It contains the deepest known points in the world's ocean; the largest active mud volcanoes; unique phenomena; and unique habitats.)
    • What is unique about the animals that live in and near the Mariana Trench? (Some of the reefs require volcanic rock. Some of the animals live off of light and some live off of chemicals. The animal life is very diverse.)
    • Why are the ecosystems in and near the Trench essential to the long-term study of tropical marine ecosystems? (They are unique, diverse, and relatively pristine.)
  • Subjects & Disciplines

    Learning Objectives

    Students will:

    • explain how the Mariana Trench is protected from exploitation
    • describe what the Mariana Trench offers and why it is important to preserve
    • identify what is unique about the Trench, its geography, and its animal life

    Teaching Approach

    • Learning-for-use

    Teaching Methods

    • Discussions
    • Reading

    Skills Summary

    This activity targets the following skills:

    National Standards, Principles, and Practices

    National Geography Standards

    • Standard 15:  How physical systems affect human systems
    • Standard 16:  The changes that occur in the meaning, use, distribution, and importance of resources

    National Science Education Standards

  • What You’ll Need

    Physical Space

    • Classroom


    • Large-group instruction
  • Background Information

    The Mariana Trench was declared part of a protected marine reserve in 2009 by presidential proclamation. Scientists are studying the Trench and coral reef ecosystems in the surrounding areas to learn more about tropical marine ecosystems.

    Prior Knowledge

    • None


    Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry
    ecosystem Noun

    community and interactions of living and nonliving things in an area.

    Encyclopedic Entry: ecosystem
    Mariana Trench Noun

    deepest place on Earth, located in the South Pacific Ocean at 11,000 meters (36,198 feet) at its deepest.

    For Further Exploration



Marine Conservation Biology Institute: Sea to Shining Sea