This place is not a fantasy, but exists today only 80 miles east of Boston in the Gulf of Maine
Imagine, if you will, an underwater cathedral of rock off the coast of Maine, where ledges of stone that rival Mount Washington provide a foothold for the largest cold water kelp forest in the Atlantic.
Broad blades of kelp lift towards the surface, converting energy from the sun into life supporting oxygen and providing cover for a staggering abundance and diversity of marine life.
Here you can still find both large and small sharks and fish like cod, pollock and tuna of the size our ancestors described.
Lobster and sea stars, anemones and sponges cover the bottom like clumsy, multi-colored fists of large fingers reaching to a wash of nutrients in the water.
Upwards to ten thousand whales, dolphins and porpoises at a time come to the surface to feed on the abundance of smaller fish and plankton. Seabirds on the surface hunt for leftovers and bring this enormous cauldron of productivity and energy back to land. You needn’t jump in a time machine to go there. This place is not a fantasy, but exists today only 80 miles east of Boston in the Gulf of Maine as an extension of the mountain range of Acadia National Park. The area is simply known as Cashes Ledge and it is part of our Atlantic Treasures, a fragile place being considered for marine protection through designation as a National Monument.
The rugged mountainous rocks of Cashes Ledge interrupt the river of currents flowing through the Gulf, creating smaller upending rivulets that deposit nutrients on canyon edges, fueling the start of the food chain. The larger catch upon which New England fisheries depend, such as cod and tuna, reproduce and feed on smaller fish here before ranging to the open ocean. Tiny gears turn progressively larger gears in a simple, yet elegant mechanism that is as ancient as our earth. It is these uninterrupted gears that support our healthy seas, which in turn sustain us.
“I spent a lot of time flying aerial surveys over this area,” says Scott Kraus, Ph.D.,the Aquarium’s vice president of research and one of the leading experts on the highly endangered North Atlantic right whale. “One day, we encountered a multi-species aggregation of dolphins and whales that extended along the shelf edge for nearly 10 miles. There must have been 10,000 animals, and it looked like the equivalent of the Serengeti in Africa—only instead of wildebeest, giraffes, antelope and lions it was grampus, pilot whales, striped, spotted and common dolphins and sperm whales.”
But Cashes Ledge is under threat as waters warm globally. The Gulf of Maine is warming at a rate faster than 99% of other areas worldwide. Some ocean animals have started to show signs of stress from habitat changes as they search for cooler waters. A movement to permanently protect Cashes Ledge through designation as a National Monument needs your support today. Protecting Cashes Ledge, a feeding and breeding ground for so many populations of fish and marine mammals, would be the equivalent of protecting the principal of an investment, ensuring that future dividends can be paid.
Please join us in protecting this New England treasure. Sign the petition here and urge your congressmen elected officials to voice their support in protecting Cashes Ledge.
More about the species, habitat and health of Cashes Ledge from the scientific assessment proposal on marine National Monuments including work from Dr. Scott Krauss and the New England Aquarium
Laura Parker Roerdan, a W2O board member, is Executive Director of Ocean Matters.