At the State Department, Obama Delivers Report On His Snorkeling Trip

President Barack Obama talks about snorkeling at the Our Oceans conference at the State Department September 15, 2016 in Washington, DC.
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President Barack Obama tells about some of his undersea adventures during a State Department event celebrating the oceans.

“The coral was purple and it was orange, and there were monk seals sunning themselves on some rocks,” Obama said about his recent snorkeling trip off the Island of Midway. He described one situation where a monk seal dove in the water and scared one of his staffers that joined him on the trip underwater.

“We spent the afternoon looking at this incredible variety of fish,” he pointed out, adding that it was proof that when there were fewer people, nature was able to heal itself.

“Nature is actually resilient if we take care to just stop actively destroying it — that it will come back,” he said.

The president flew to the island aboard Air Force One two weeks ago to tout his massively expanded National Marine Reserve, even though the Department of the Interior has effectively closed the island to visitors in order to preserve bird habitats and ocean life.

Obama recognized that although there were once as many as 6,000 troops on the island during World War II, the population was reduced to 45 people.

“[W]e figured out that if you eliminated some of the people and the rats that the people had brought to the island, the birds would actually do pretty good,” Obama said, boasting that there were now more than three million birds on the island.