Cashes Ledge, located about 80 miles east of Cape Ann, Massachusetts, is a unique underwater mountain range that provides refuge for a vibrant, diverse world of ocean wildlife. If not protected soon, it will face devastating threats.
The steep ridges and deep basins of Cashes Ledge create ideal conditions for marine life as currents mix nutrient- and oxygen-rich water at a depth exposed to sunlight. Home to the deepest and largest cold water kelp forest along the Atlantic seaboard, Cashes Ledge provides an important source of food and a diverse habitat for common New England fish and rare species such as the Atlantic wolffish. This abundance draws in even more ocean wildlife like migrating schools of bluefin tuna, blue and porbeagle sharks, and passing pods of highly endangered North Atlantic right whales and humpback whales.
Cashes Ledge is important not only to marine life but also to scientists hoping to learn about the health and function of New England’s oceans – many scientists believe that Cashes Ledge represents the best remaining example of an undisturbed Gulf of Maine ecosystem. As a result, scientists have used Cashes Ledge as an underwater laboratory for decades.
Modern commercial fishing technologies make Cashes Ledge extremely susceptible to damage from bottom trawling gear. A trawl could strip clear the kelp forest on Ammen Rock and completely alter the ecosystem that depends on it for decades or more. Some anemone populations could take up to 230 years to recover from a single drag of a bottom trawl.
Bottom trawling and scallop dredging on Cashes Ledge has been banned for over a decade, but the New England Fishery Management Council recently voted to reverse even these temporary protections and open Cashes Ledge to trawling.
Cashes Ledge needs permanent protection. CLF is committed to securing permanent protection to ensure the long-term health of this important and vulnerable ecosystem. Please join us in working to protect this world class undersea treasure.
Video: Take a 90-Second Dive on Cashes Ledge
The Boston Globe Visits Cashes Ledge