Large assemblages of acanthogorgid-like corals on rocks at 500 meters in Wilmington Canyon. Note the white plastic bag entangled in the corals.


Cold-water corals, deep submarine canyons, and a broad, sandy continental shelf are among the diverse ocean habitats of the Mid-Atlantic region. In addition to being home to wildlife like sea turtles, whales, dolphins, seabirds, fish, crustaceans, corals, and other species, these habitats support commercial and recreational fisheries and other important economic activities in the region. MARCO is working with partners to map and document the Mid-Atlantic Ocean habitats in order to maintain sustainable resource use and healthy ecosystems in light of climatic changes and increased human use pressure.


  • The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), in collaboration with other federal agencies and external partners, conducted a series of expeditions to survey deepwater canyons from Virginia to Maine. NOAA scientists invited MARCO to help identify priority areas that might be surveyed to help fill biological and geological informational gaps in the Mid-Atlantic. The NOAA ship Okeanos Explorer explored the deep waters of the Mid-Atlantic region, including canyons off New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland and Virginia. MARCO worked with scientists at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute to add genus and species level coral data from deep sea canyons off the Mid-Atlantic coast to the Mid-Atantic Ocean Data Portal. An executive summary of the findings, Deep-water Coral and Fish of U.S. Mid-Atlantic Canyons; implications for management and conservation, can be found here.  Watch for links to an interview with the scientist who wrote the report and a story map to take you on a tour of some of the canyons.


  • The VA CZM Program, as a MARCO member, is funding work to help visualize shifts in fish populations on the MARCO Data Portal. The project is expected to be completed by April 2020.




MARCO and MACO collaborate with governmental agencies, tribal nations and many other interested stakeholders through a series of specially focused work groups. The areas of focus that are relevant to this priority include:


Ocean Mapping Data Team (OMDT)



The Portal boasts thousands of layers of ocean data and is regularly updated with new and improved data and functions associated with marine habitats.  Highlights associated with marine habitats include:








Page last updated: October 23, 2019