Barbara Russo – 718-265-3428; 917-494-5493;  

John Delaney – 718-220-3275;

Max Pulsinelli – 718-220-5182; 571-218-7601;

Attached Photo: Octopus and desmophyllum on wall in Norfolk Canyon. © Image courtesy of Deepwater Canyons 2013 Expedition, NOAA-OER/BOEM/USGS

Little-known Underwater Canyon off New York and New Jersey Nominated as National Marine Sanctuary

The Hudson Canyon is the East Coast’s largest submarine canyon

A plethora of marine life can be found here, including whales, sharks, turtles, and more

Although many species rely on the canyon, this fragile area could face threats from incompatible human activity, specifically oil and gas exploration and extraction

The Wildlife Conservation Society’s New York Aquarium today  nominated the Hudson Canyon as a National Marine Sanctuary

Sanctuary status will not only protect wildlife from oil and gas exploration, but also help sustain commercial and recreational fisheries, as well as pelagic whale and bird cruises that depend on this area.

Based on its discussions with members of the fishing community, WCS does not recommend any change in fishing regulations as a result of a designation.

Brooklyn, N.Y.  – Nov. 18, 2016 – WCS’s (Wildlife Conservation Society) New York Aquarium is leading a broad coalition of organizations and stakeholders working to help the Hudson Canyon, a magnificent underwater canyon few people know exist. Located just 100 miles southeast of the Statue of Liberty, the Hudson Canyon is the East Coast’s largest submarine canyon. Many species of marine life can be found here, including whales, sharks, turtles, deep sea corals and more.

WCS has just submitted a proposal to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to designate the Hudson Canyon a National Marine Sanctuary through a transparent, inclusive stakeholder-driven public process. The proposal submission is the first of several steps in the nomination process. Without protections, the Hudson Canyon faces threats from oil, gas, and mineral exploration and extraction. The coalition is a diverse group of stakeholders that includes aquariums, NGOs, local businesses, elected officials and others in the effort to nominate the marine ecosystem for sanctuary status.

The Hudson Canyon was formed more than 10,000 years ago during the last ice age. Today, hundreds of species rely on the Canyon – making it what scientists call a biodiversity hotspot. The canyon also helps to support a thriving local ocean economy. The many fish and invertebrates that live here are a critical food source for the marine mammal and seabird populations that are important to whale watching and pelagic birding cruises. WCS recommends that fisheries within the Hudson Canyon continue to be regulated through existing regional and federal entities, and does not recommend any change in fishing regulations as a result of a designation. 

“The Hudson Canyon provides shelter and food for marine species including a number of endangered whales and sea turtles. It is a fragile ocean ecosystem just offshore of one of the most densely populated urbanized areas in North America, one that is currently open to the possibility of oil, gas, and mineral exploration and extraction,” said Jon Forrest Dohlin, Wildlife Conservation Society Vice President and Director of the New York Aquarium. “We respectfully ask NOAA to safeguard the Hudson Canyon from these activities by designating the canyon as a National Marine Sanctuary. Giving the Hudson Canyon sanctuary status will help marine life thrive for generations to come, while also ensuring a robust fishing area for both commercial and recreational fisheries. We thank Congressman Serrano and the other members for their leadership.”

More than 17,700 people have signed a petition to show their support for the Hudson Canyon. Others can sign here:

This project has been made possible with support of the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation.

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

The unique habitats of the Hudson Canyon will be featured in the aquarium’s Canyon’s Edge exhibit in the future Ocean Wonders: Sharks! building, which will educate visitors about submarine canyons and their inhabitants. 

For more information or to speak with a WCS expert, contact Barbara Russo at 718-265-3428 or