Our dive team is back! Over the next two weeks the team will return to the Gulf of Maine and Cashes Ledge to explore more of New England’s beautiful ocean and marine life!
This year from June 1 to June 14, onboard the R/V Tioga, the team will travel the 100 miles off the coast to Cashes Ledge, an underwater mountain range in the center of the Gulf of Maine that rises to within 40 feet of the surface. The steep slopes and ridges of Cashes Ledge create internal waves that mix nutrient- and oxygen-rich water. This mixing supports incredible productivity and biodiversity like no other place in the Gulf of Maine and gives rise to the deepest and largest cold water kelp forest along the Atlantic seaboard. The unique ecological conditions draw in a rich diversity of marine species ranging from bottom-dwelling sea stars, sea anemones, and purple sponges to fish like cod, wolfish, and bluefin tuna to endangered North Atlantic right whales and humpback whales.
Our dive last year captured breathtaking photographs and video of Cashes Ledge, the Isles of Shoals, and the inshore Gulf of Maine. This year, we will be able to go deeper than before – too far for the team to go themselves. Using an ROV, the team will explore down the flanks of the ledge all the way to the muddy basin below. Weather depending, we will also try to ascend the peak of Fippennies Ledge, just west of Cashes. Cashes Ledge harbors an assemblage of marine habitats and we want to see them all!
In addition to capturing stunning video and photo images of Cashes Ledge and other areas in the Gulf of Maine, including habitat and wildlife, the dive will serve to advance Dr. Jon Witman’s research on kelp, cod, and Cashes Ledge. Dr. Jon Witman is a marine ecologist who led the first ecological study of overfishing in the Gulf of Maine and has spent decades studying invertebrate and fish communities on Cashes Ledge and other marine habitats in the region.
Much like last year, this year’s exact dive locations will depend on a lot factors like weather and visibility. We are off to a rainy start, but those clouds should clear soon, and we hope to head out on the water. Stay tuned over the next two weeks for more updates, and be sure to follow New England Ocean Odyssey and Conservation Law Foundation on Facebook and Twitter so you can explore with us and help build awareness and support for New England’s ocean. We look forward to revealing more of the amazing wonders beneath New England’s waves!