This Sunday is World Oceans Day, an international event to celebrate and honor the ocean. This year, volunteers have organized events in locations around the world, from Massachusetts to Mozambique. The message of the day is simple – our oceans are valuable but at risk, and all of us can take easy steps to help.
World Oceans Day is a global event, but we thought we’d bring it back home to New England by celebrating the incredible marine habitat in the Gulf of Maine. For the past two weeks, Conservation Law Foundation’s dive team has been exploring some of the amazing places in the Gulf of Maine, from the inshore Isles of Shoals to the incredible Cashes Ledge, 100 miles off the Maine coast.
Cashes Ledge is an underwater mountain range whose steep ridges mix nutrient- and oxygen-rich water, creating a very productive environment. The ledge harbors the largest and deepest kelp forest off the east coast; our divers tell us the kelp on Cashes is so lush and dense it can be tricky to even see the seafloor and navigate along the bottom. To give you an idea of what diving in the kelp looks like, here’s a video from one of the team’s previous trips to Cashes Ledge, taken by videographer Lu Lamar.
The area around Cashes Ledge has been protected for more than a decade, but unfortunately, this incredible habitat is now at risk of being opened to commercial trawling. The current proposal under consideration by NOAA and the New England Fishery Management Council would eliminate protection for three quarters of the area around Cashes Ledge. World Oceans Day is a perfect reminder that healthy oceans need healthy habitat, and the incredible ecosystem on Cashes Ledge is worth protecting for good.
You can join in the World Oceans Day festivities by finding an event near you – there are lots of events in towns across New England, from 5Ks to surfing meet-ups. You can also take a “selfie for the sea” – a photo of yourself doing something for the ocean or making a promise to protect it – and post it with the hashtag #WorldOceansDay. And you can help protect marine habitat right here in New England by asking NOAA to maintain full protection for the area surrounding Cashes Ledge by signing our petition here.