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Neugrund crater and surrounding shallows to be placed under protection

The Environmental Board plans to establish a new nature reserve that will cover the lowlands off the northwestern coast of Estonia, including the biggest meteorite crater in Estonia.

The Neugrund asteroid fell on earth around 535 million years ago, on a spot that is now located in the territory of the Nõva municipality, Lääne County, east of Osmussaar island. The asteroid, about a kilometer in diameter, left a nine-kilometer wide circular crater rim in the bottom of the sea. The ring fault surrounding the whole structure reaches 21 kilometers. For comparison, Estonia's best known crater, the Kaali main crater, has a diameter of 110 meters. You can read more about Estonian meteorite craters here.

The crater will now be placed under protection said Marju Erit, leading environmental protection specialist of the Hiiu-Lääne-Saare region. "It's a unique natural feature of global importance, known as the best-preserved underwater meteorite crater in the world," Erit told ERR radio news.

The planned reserve also aims to protect the marine life and migratory birds who nest in the area. The most common of the latter are the long-tailed ducks, tens of thousands of whom flock to the area every winter.

Whereas people can still boat, dive and fish in the shallows, wind-farms will be ruled out of the question, as these harm both the birds and the marine life. The first can plough into the turbines in adverse weather conditions, and the magnetic field of the electric cables, the noise and the vibration have a damaging effect on the latter.

Nõva Rural Municipality Mayor Deiw Rahumägi hopes the the reserve will gain international attention and attract more visitors to the area. "The smaller we are the higher the need for attractions that raise our profile within the republic as well as in Scandinavia," he said.

The Environmental Board said the reserve should be established by spring 2016.

Editor: M. Oll

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