A spectacular array of ocean animals were documented earlier this month by scientists with the New England Aquarium during an aerial survey southeast of Nantucket over the Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument.
The members of the New England Aquarium team documented more than 700 ocean animals as they flew above the only marine national monument in the U.S. Atlantic Ocean. Those animals included fin whales, pilot whales, bottlenose, striped, and Risso’s dolphins, along with Chilean devil rays, manta rays, common dolphins, sunfish, and a hammerhead shark.
“The Aquarium has been documenting the marine mammal biodiversity in the Monument for seven years, and every aerial survey flight is breathtaking,” said Orla O’Brien, an associate scientist in the Aquarium’s Anderson Cabot Center for Ocean Life. “Our photos only scratch the surface of the ocean life that calls this area home.”
Many other animals live below the surface, where dozens of species of coral create deep-sea ecosystems.
The Monument features three underwater canyons deeper than the Grand Canyon and four seamounts, or extinct volcanoes, that rise higher than any mountain east of the Rockies.
In 2016, President Obama designated the 5,000-square-mile area the first marine national monument in the U.S. Atlantic Ocean. The New England Aquarium and Mystic Aquarium both played a role in the designation of the Monument, providing the strong scientific evidence of the importance of this diverse habitat that offers food and shelter to many endangered and threatened marine species.