About 100 miles southeast of New York City sits the Hudson Canyon, the largest submarine canyon along the U.S.'s Atlantic Coast. In depth and scale, it rivals the Grand Canyon. Hudson Canyon is home to hundreds of species, including deep sea corals, marine mammals, fishes, marine turtles, and seabirds. There are also numerous species important to fisheries, including tilefish, squid, crabs, flounder, and tuna.
By the Numbers
7Empire State Buildings
Hudson Canyon's deepest point is 10,500 feet below sea level —more than 7 Empire State Buildings stacked end-to-end from the seafloor to the surface.
The canyon formed more than 10,000 years ago during the last ice age.
A squid photographed in Hudson Canyon by NOAA's 2021 ROV Shakedown expedition.
We Rely on Hudson Canyon, Yet it Lacks Permanent Protections
Whether we are aware of it or not, we depend on this rich environment. The huge diversity of species supports many local, commercial, and recreational fisheries. Migrating birds and whales often stopover at the Canyon for extra food, making it a popular destination for wildlife tourism. Ships regularly traverse the surface above the canyon, entering and leaving one of the biggest ports in the world. A network of deep-sea communication cables run adjacent to the canyon, connecting us to the rest of the world. New Yorkers, and, indeed, people all across the United States, rely on the services the Hudson Canyon provides. And yet this unique ecosystem has few permanent protections, and is vulnerable to harm from various human activities.
Designation as a National Marine Sanctuary
WCS nominated Hudson Canyon as a National Marine Sanctuary in November 2016. In February 2017, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) determined that Hudson Canyon is a place of national significance and is worthy of designation. By designating the Hudson Canyon a National Marine Sanctuary, NOAA has an opportunity to provide a wide range of benefits for New York and New Jersey residents and for the diversity of wildlife living off our shores. WCS recommends that a Sanctuary Designation:
Permanently preclude offshore oil, gas, and mineral exploration and development in the canyon
Maintain fish and other wildlife populations
Ensure a future for the fisheries and tourism industries that depend on healthy ocean ecosystems
Increase investment in research and monitoring, including collaborative research with the fishing industry to understand impacts from climate change
Expand opportunities for STEM education and community engagement, especially for historically under-resourced communities