The ocean floor just off the eastern United States is deeply carved with hidden canyons, teaming with exotic and breathtaking species of plants and animals.
There's 15 major incised canyons along the east coast of the United States. At times of lower sea level, rivers ran out across continental shelf and carved out the tops of parts of the canyons.
Some are almost as long as the Grand Canyon and nearly as deep. Just east of those canyons, 4 extinct volcanoes called seamounts, rise from the ocean floor. They're part of a chain that extends down to Bermuda. Together, the canyons and seamounts are home to an extraordinary universe of life.
There's a forest of whip corals and very large single polyp deep-sea corals and the fact that they're small belies their advanced ages, hundreds of years old.
Deep-sea corals are extraordinary organisms. They are not only beautiful and ecologically important but they're really fragile and need explicit protection.
Huge schools of squid and Mackerel forge in these waters. Tilefish, lobsters and Red Crab. Tuna, Marlin, swordfish, dolphins and even the occasional sea turtle are attracted to the feast. Whales traverse the canyons, including endangered sperm whales, which can consume up to a ton of deep-water squid and fish every day.
These Atlantic waters are also an important food source for humans. Their bounty has attracted generations of commercial and sport fisherman.
The desire to fish deeper and deeper continues to out race our ability to understand how these places work.
Some threats like bottom trawling, can physically remove those reefs - it took hundreds of years to build - in a matter of minutes. The effect of bottom trawling is not unlike bulldozing or clear-cutting a forest. Anything that's in its path will turn to rubble.
Until recently, these deep places were simply out of reach of people. We have increased our ability to get out and get down as technology has developed. There's no wisdom tradition in the history of the world that says that the world is ours to destroy. It's always ours to pass on.
Choosing some places that we don't want to impact is going to be key to conserving these communities into the future.
For now this region remains largely untouched. It's been protected for centuries, essentially by our ignorance. Now that we know and can reach the riches it contains, we can plunder them or protect them.