Some, when they think of our communal oceans, might think only of vast, blue expanses, but deep within them exist communities as dense and varied — and as grand (in a different way) — as the metropolises we’ve constructed. Many are not that far away, either. For instance, an underwater channel that extends from the New York/New Jersey Harbor drops suddenly into a steep submarine canyon at the edge of the continental shelf. This canyon, called Hudson Canyon, is just one of string of such canyons running from Cape Hatteras to east of Cape Cod. They contain landscapes with contours not unlike Arizona’s Grand Canyon, only flooded. Hard to believe? Watch this new NRDC film, "Ocean Oases," narrated by Philippe Cousteau, about both the Atlantic canyons and several equally spectacular nearby dormant volcanoes called seamounts that rise thousands of feet from the ocean depths.
As the film explains, humans haven’t yet invaded the deep and pristine recesses of these unique ocean features. But this may not last. New “canyon buster” and “rock hopper” trawling gear make fishing along the bottom — as opposed to higher in the water column — of these previously — inaccessible areas now possible. With a single pass of such a “bottom trawling” net, we can destroy habitats so colorful they might rival Times Square, if only light filtered that deep, including corals that have taken hundreds of years to grow. And seismic oil and gas exploration is poised to begin off the Eastern Seaboard, which not only presages potential drilling, but also is in itself harmful to marine mammals, as you’ll learn in the film.