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Atlantic Ocean and Coast

From Maine to the Florida Keys

Viewed from shore, the Atlantic Ocean might seem like an endless blue-grey expanse stretching into the horizon — one monolithic pool of salt water and sea foam.  It’s easy to look out on this massive body of water and think that all of it is the same. But beneath the murky surface lies underwater terrain as varied and complex as the land itself, with diversity that tests the bounds of imagination.

If you’ve ever explored the ocean by boat, you’ve probably observed these differences firsthand. Perhaps you noticed the color of the water change as you sailed further out to sea, or watched sea birds flock around a swirling patch of water, spearing the surface for fish.

These are all clues that no two places in the ocean are the same. Some habitats move, some don’t. Some areas are fragile, some are more durable.  There are submarine canyons used by dolphins, deepwater corals containing rare compounds that can help cure human diseases, productive scallop beds that have supported generations of shellfishermen and offshore banks where fish, birds and whales have congregated for ages.

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