Barbara Russo – 718-265-3428;

Max Pulsinelli – 718-220-5182;


Attached Photos: Drawings of corals and other marine animals done by local children to show support for coral protection


New York’s Little-Known Corals Get Much-Needed Public Support


·      Beautiful deep-sea coral networks can be found right off the coast of NYC

·      Cold-water corals are fragile but face threats from human activity on the water

·      More than 13,000 visitors to WCS’s Central Park Zoo and New York Aquarium and online advocates signed petitions and wrote letters to protect deep-sea corals

·      Young visitors drew pictures of their favorite marine animals in support of protecting deep-sea corals (Photos attached)


Brooklyn, N.Y.  – Feb. 10, 2015- More than 120,000 people took a stand to protect a little known natural wonder right off the coast of New York, New Jersey, and the Mid Atlantic: Deep-sea corals found right off  our coastlines, including in underwater canyons. These local corals are fragile, slow growing, and subject to severe damage by human activity.  

As part of a broad coalition, supporters and visitors to WCS’s Central Park Zoo and New York Aquarium and many WCS members throughout the region submitted 13,000 letters, petitions, and drawings asking the Mid-Atlantic Fisheries Management Council (MAFMC) to consider protecting coral ecosystems in the Mid-Atlantic, including those that live in the Hudson Canyon, the East Coast’s largest submarine canyon located 100 miles off the coast of New York City. The petitioning took place during a special public comment period administered by the MAFMC.

“We are grateful for all the support we’ve garnered over the last month to protect local deep-sea corals,” said Jon Forrest Dohlin, WCS Vice President and Director of the New York Aquarium. “Coral communities provide shelter and food for many species, but they are very fragile and subject to severe damage from human use of the ocean. We urge the MAFMC to safeguard deep-sea corals by protecting discrete coral zones in all submarine canyons from all bottom-fishing gears, restricting the use of all bottom-fishing gear by establishing a broad coral zone below 200 meters and by requiring the use of electronic vessel monitoring systems aboard fishing vessels to ensure effective enforcement.”

Submarine canyons are coral hotspots and provide important habitat for diverse concentrations of marine life, including sperm whales, tunas, and sharks. The MAFMC is considering protecting 15 submarine canyons that can be found in the Mid Atlantic part of the East Coast.

Scientists are only beginning to learn about deep-sea coral ecosystems and their importance to the healthy functioning of oceans, as well as their many values to humans, including applications to biomedical research. One thing that is known is that they face threats from human activity, such as the use of bottom fishing gear that can break, damage, and disrupt coral communities. Further, given that they are slow growing, once the damage is done, it can take hundreds or thousands of years for the corals to grow back.

Petitions from WCS and partner organizations have been sent to the MAFMC for consideration. The council is expected to vote on protections on Feb. 11 at its next council meeting in Raleigh, N.C.

The New York Aquarium works to protect local waters through its NY Seascape Program. The program is designed to restore healthy populations of local marine species—many of them threatened—and protect New York marine waters and habitats, which are vital to wildlife and key to the area’s economic and cultural vitality.  

This unique habitat will be featured in the aquarium’s future Ocean Wonders: Sharks! building at the Canyon’s Edge exhibit, which will educate visitors about coldwater canyons and local coral species.  Ocean Wonders: Sharks! is scheduled to open in 2016.

For more information about this story or to speak to the experts involved, contact Barbara Russo at 718-265-3428 or

Wildlife Conservation Society's New York Aquarium is open every day of the year. Summer hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily. Fall/winter/spring hours are 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., daily. Tickets are $11.95 per person (ages 3 & up), and include Aquarium admission plus one admission to the new 4-D Theater; children age 2 and under are admitted free. Fridays after 4 p.m. in the summer and after 3 p.m. in the fall, Aquarium admission is by pay-what-you-wish donation.  The aquarium is located on Surf Avenue at West 8th Street in Coney Island.  The New York Aquarium is located on property owned by the City of New York, and its operation is made possible in part by public funds provided through the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs. For directions, information on public events and programs, and other aquarium information, call 718-265-FISH or visit our web site at Now is the perfect time to visit and show support for the WCS New York Aquarium, a beloved part of Brooklyn and all of the City of New York. Due to Hurricane Sandy we are partially opened. Check our website for more information.


Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS)  MISSION: WCS saves wildlife and wild places worldwide through science, conservation action, education, and inspiring people to value nature. VISION: WCS envisions a world where wildlife thrives in healthy lands and seas, valued by societies that embrace and benefit from the diversity and integrity of life on earth. To achieve our mission, WCS, based at the Bronx Zoo, harnesses the power of its Global Conservation Program in more than 60 nations and in all the world’s oceans and its five wildlife parks in New York City, visited by 4 million people annually. WCS combines its expertise in the field, zoos, and aquarium to achieve its conservation mission. Visit:;;  Follow: @thewcs.


Special Note to the Media: If you would like to guide your readers or viewers to a Web link where they can make donations in support of helping save wildlife and wild places, please direct them to