Off the Deep End
1. Nantucket Shoals
During the age of sail more than a few captains fetched up on these shoals and wrecked. Wyoming, the largest wooden sailing ship ever built, met her end near here back in 1924, and as recently as 1995 a cruise ship misjudged the Great South Channel and went aground.
2. Stellwagen Bank
New England's first marine sanctuary, this shallow area provides a smorgasbord for marine mammals, most noticeably the humpback and North Atlantic right whales that migrate here each summer. It is open to commercial fishing but prohibits activities such as sand and gravel mining.
3. Wilkinson Basin
This 886-foot deep basin, one of twenty-one depressions carved in
the bottom of the gulf, is rivaled only by Jordan Basin, south of Mount Desert Island, and the deepest spot of them all, 1,236-foot deep Georges Basin between Browns and Georges banks. It takes about ten months for the cold water in these basins to
4. Cashes Ledge
Ammen Rock, the peak of this undersea mountain range, sits just twenty-five feet below the surface and is home to one of the highest concentrations of marine life in the Gulf of Maine. Waves sometimes break over Ammen Rock during storms.
5. Penobscot Bay
A 545-foot deep canyon, one of nearly forty miles of ravines stretching south from Rockland, was likely created when a massive amount of subglacial meltwater was suddenly released by the retreating glaciers. Tidal action has since kept this depression from filling in.
6. Bay of Fundy
The highest tides in the world are formed when water rushing in the Northeast Channel roars northeastward and is forced through the relatively narrow and shallow channel bisected by Grand Manan Island. The moon's effect creates a nearly perfect tidal resonance and the resulting fifty-foot tides.
7. Northeast Channel
Acting as an undersea umbilical cord, this chasm allows the Labrador Current to wash frigid, nutrient-rich saltwater into the gulf. The draft of most commercial ships forces them to pass through this 750-foot-deep gateway to the gulf.
8. The Abyss
While the drop-off between Georges Bank and the Atlantic seabed is exaggerated in this image, there's no dismissing the vertigo you can feel peering over the Continental Shelf into the 13,000-foot-deep broad Atlantic Ocean. The drop-off is serrated by canyons more than half
a mile deep.
9. Georges Shoals
Native American campsites have been unearthed in this area, once dry land that enclosed the gulf, and in the neighboring Cultivator Shoals, where today the water can be as little as thirteen feet deep. Sailors were said to have played ball on dry land in this area and fishermen still occasionally snag tree trunks in their nets.
10. Great South Channel
This twenty-seven-mile-wide, 165-foot-deep trough acts as a massive drain, allowing the supply of cold water coming in the Northeast Channel to escape after it has circulated counter-clockwise around the gulf. It is also the primary shipping channel for southbound commercial ships.