Hudson Canyon

About 100 miles southeast of New York City is the beginning of the Hudson Canyon, the largest submarine canyon along the US's Atlantic Coast. In depth and scale, it rivals the Grand Canyon. Hudson Canyon is habitat for hundreds of wildlife species, from giant and threatened whales and dolphins, sharks, and sea turtles, to soaring seabirds and deep-sea corals. There are also numerous species important to fisheries, including tilefish, squid, crabs, flounder, and tunas, and other species important to ecotourism.

Speak Out in Support

Let the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) know how important it is to designate the Hudson Canyon as a National Marine Sanctuary.

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By the Numbers

7 Empire 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.

10 thousand years

The canyon formed more than 10,000 years ago during the last ice age.

Photo Credit: © Image courtesy of NOAA Ocean Exploration, 2021 ROV Shakedown

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.

Creatures of the Canyon

Photo Credit: ©Steve De Neef

One of the world's fastest sharks. The largest toothed predators on Earth. Meet some of the hundreds of species that rely on the Canyon.

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WCS Wild Audio

Young Voices Are Speaking Out for the Protection of the Hudson Canyon

In the process of pushing for a Hudson Canyon designation, the goal is to deepen the connection of the more than 28 million local residents to our treasured ocean resources. There are a number of voices contributing to the effort, including young people.


The Edge of Known Things—Will Hudson Canyon Be Named a National Marine Sanctuary?

“With all this strangeness, there is also beauty beyond words.” That’s how the famous scientist and explorer William Beebe described an underwater marvel off the coast of New York and New Jersey in the late 1920s . Today, Hudson Canyon has been nominated as a National Marine Sanctuary. But, as WCS Wild Audio learned from Noah Chesnin and Dr. Merry Camhi, there’s still a lot we don’t know about this massive canyon.



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 National Marine Sanctuary status. In January and February 2022, NOAA conducted the five-year review process and concluded that the Hudson Canyon National Marine Sanctuary nomination continued to meet the eleven national significance criteria and management considerations.

On June 8, 2022, the Biden-Harris Administration announced its intent to initiate the multi-year designation process for Hudson Canyon as a National Marine Sanctuary. The Wildlife Conservation Society commends NOAA for starting the designation process of Hudson Canyon as a National Marine Sanctuary.

This is a once in a generation opportunity to support marine conservation of this ecologically unique and vulnerable ecosystem and deepen the connection of the more than 28 million residents in New York and New Jersey to our treasured ocean resources!

By designating the Hudson Canyon a National Marine Sanctuary, NOAA would be advancing community-led conservation of nationally significant marine wildlife and their habitat, while also providing research and STEM education opportunities. Sanctuary designation has an opportunity to provide a wide range of benefits for New York and New Jersey residents and for the diversity of marine wildlife in Atlantic waters. To help protect this ecological treasure, WCS recommends that a Sanctuary Designation:

  • Permanently preclude offshore oil, gas, and mineral exploration and development in the canyon.
  • Maintain healthy populations of fish and other wildlife.
  • We recognize concerns about the name Hudson Canyon given its link to the colonial legacy of Henry Hudson. We call on NOAA to organize an inclusive process to identify and select a name for the proposed Sanctuary.
  • Ensure a future for sustainable fisheries under existing regulatory authorities.
  • Support the tourism industries that depend on healthy ocean ecosystems.
  • Increase federal investment in biological and ecological research and monitoring – including the impacts of climate change on ocean life and resources, and collaborative research with fishing, shipping, and offshore wind industries.
  • Identify and protect cultural resources and history.
  • Expand opportunities for STEM education, community engagement, and workforce development, especially for historically under-resourced communities.

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