Karen Wood, CLF, (617) 850-1722
Robin Just, CLF, (617) 850-1780
BOSTON, MA June 28, 2012 – Providing a rare view into the lush kelp forests up to 60 feet deep in New England’s ocean, a series of new photographs from renowned photojournalist Brian Skerry reveals the brilliantly colored seascape of Cashes Ledge, a jewel of the Gulf of Maine and one of the most productive biodiversity hotspots in the world. The dive was Skerry’s first expedition to Cashes Ledge and his first deep water dive for the New England Ocean Odyssey, a new campaign to build awareness of and appreciation for New England’s ocean. The New England Ocean Odyssey is a partnership between Skerry, an award-winning National Geographic photographer, and Conservation Law Foundation (CLF), a regional leader in ocean conservation.
Skerry finally reached Cashes Ledge for a two-day dive this month after two earlier attempts were foiled by storms, including Hurricane Irene last August. Skerry, a Massachusetts native who has dived all over the world, was amazed by the beauty of this special place in his own backyard. “I’ve honestly never seen anything quite like this place; a truly unique ecosystem with acres of thick, healthy kelp,” said Skerry. “The kelp is perhaps eight to nine feet tall, then the fronds drape horizontally for maybe another eight feet or longer, creating an almost false bottom of thick kelp over the actual rocky bottom below. To make these pictures, I would adjust my buoyancy so that my eye-level was just above the kelp. I wanted to make seascape pictures, lighting the foreground to bring out color and detail and giving the sense of being in a sweeping, lush undersea forest. My hope is that the combination of wide-angle photographs along with portraits of fish and kelp will begin to illustrate the diversity and beauty of this place.” (see one of his portraits below, or the full series on Flickr).
About 80 miles off the coast of Massachusetts, Cashes Ledge is a submerged mountain range that nearly pierces the surface of the ocean and is home to the deepest kelp forest in the Gulf of Maine. Fields of anemones and brightly-colored sponges produce a fascinating marine landscape surrounding Ammen Rock, the highest peak of Cashes Ledge and New England’s underwater equivalent of Mount Washington. The diverse habitat of Cashes Ledge, ranging from rocky outcroppings to deep mud basins to lush kelp forests, provides a safe home for a wide range of species and serves as a nursery for fish, lobsters, crabs and the charismatic Atlantic wolffish.
Priscilla Brooks, PhD, director of CLF’s Ocean Conservation program, said, “For many, the only encounter we ever have with iconic fish like the New England cod is on our plate. With his photographs, Brian Skerry has the uncanny ability to give us the sense of discovering something completely new, while at the same time providing touchstones of behavior, gesture, form, movement, color and light that feel strangely familiar. The effect is to connect the viewer viscerally to these special ocean places and the wildlife that live there. That connection, we believe, is fundamental to our efforts to protect New England’s ocean and is the heart and soul of the New England Ocean Odyssey.”
About the New England Ocean Odyssey
Conservation Law Foundation (CLF) and renowned photojournalist Brian Skerry have joined forces in the New England Ocean Odyssey, a first-of-its-kind journey beneath New England’s waves. Through Skerry’s exclusive photographs and first-hand accounts of his diving expeditions, the New England Ocean Odyssey will provide a never-before-seen view of the amazing riches of New England’s ocean and bring attention to the very real issues facing it. Over the next five years, the New England Ocean Odyssey will explore a variety of special places in New England’s ocean, including Cashes Ledge, Jeffreys Ledge, Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary, Jordan Basin, the Deep Sea Canyons and Seamounts, as well as nearshore coastal waters. To learn more about the New England Ocean Odyssey and view Brian Skerry’s photographs, follow us online:
About Conservation Law Foundation
Conservation Law Foundation (CLF) protects New England’s environment for the benefit of all people. Using the law, science and the market, CLF creates solutions that preserve natural resources, build healthy communities, and sustain a vibrant economy region-wide. Founded in 1966, CLF is a nonprofit, member-supported organization with offices in Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont.
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