New York (June 6, 2017) – To highlight the incredible wildlife diversity – and looming threats – to New York’s marine environment, WCS’s New York Aquarium and National Geographic have collaborated on a one-of-a-kind map of the 16,000-square-mile area from Montauk Point, New York to Cape May, New Jersey.


Known as the New York Bight, the marine waters off the coasts of the Tri-State area are an ecological treasure trove. Yet few of the 22 million coastal residents in this region are familiar with the diversity of marine wildlife and habitats of the waters off New York and New Jersey, a largely hidden realm containing hundreds of species of fishes, sea turtles, whales, and natural wonders such as the Hudson Canyon.


The double-sided map will be available on first-come-first-serve basis at WCS’s New York Aquarium on World Oceans Day, Thursday, June 8thIt can also be viewed online here.


“We designed this map to convey the amazing diversity and dynamism of marine life here in some of the busiest and most economically important waters of the world,” said Dr. Merry Camhi, Director of the New York Seascape Program, the New York Aquarium’s local marine conservation project.


“The map highlights the movements of one of the most endangered whales on the planet, the North Atlantic right whale, as it moves through New York’s waters,” said Dr. Howard Rosenbaum, Director of WCS’s Ocean Giants Program.  “Hopefully, this will help draw attention to the needs of this and other species so close to our shores.”


The map is released as the United Nations Ocean Conference continues this week running from June 5-9. The conference gathers experts from around the world to work on achieving Sustainable Development Goal 14 – to sustainably use and conserve the world’s oceans and marine resources.


One side of “New York Seascape” contains a detailed map of the region overlaying local species and human use with sidebars of information on the position of shipping lanes and the levels of vessel traffic, the fluctuations of ocean temperatures that drive the marine ecosystems, and the long-distance movements of 10 species of marine animals and birds as indicated by remote-sensing devices.  Data on wildlife movements through and beyond the seascape were contributed by research scientists from around the country. Side A also includes the exact offshore locations of underwater features such as the Hudson Canyon and other canyons aligned along the edge of the continental shelf as well as the positions of note-worthy shipwrecks.


The other side of the map contains a colorful, artistic rendering of local marine ecosystems contained in the seascape as well as the species that inhabit these waters. In one corner, species such as horseshoe crabs, piping plovers, and Atlantic sturgeon are depicted as representatives of the area’s coastal habitats, whereas flounders, striped bass, sharks, and marine mammals such as whales inhabit the seascape’s nearshore zone and continental shelf ecosystems. Rarely seen deep-sea species such as tilefish, tubeworms, and viperfish are also represented.


Many residents of the area think bio-diversity and marine wildlife are only found ‘somewhere else’” said Jon Forrest Dohlin, WCS Vice President and Director of the New York Aquarium.  “The map of the ‘New York Seascape’ is designed to raise awareness and appreciation of the surprising ecological richness right here in our own backyard.”