About the Area
The Grand Banks is a highly productive region, supporting huge schools of pelagic fish, groundfish, and feeding whales. This area contains approximately 111 species of marine annelid worms and about 30 species of marine mammals.
Historically, the area supported some of the world's most productive fisheries, but overfishing and other activities have seriously degraded the ecosystem and depleted its biota.
Part of the rich ecosystems that support an impressive mammal fauna are Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua), and Atlantic herring (Clupea harengus). Besides Beluga whales, marine mammals include the endangered Northern right whale (Eubalaena glacialis), Grey seal (Halichoerus grypus), Fin whales (Balaenoptera physalus), and the Humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae).
Overfishing, especially of herring and cod, has seriously altered marine communities. Pollution related to offshore dumping and the discharge of industrial and domestic wastes from major cities have severely degraded both estuaries and coastal waters.
Eutrophication has resulted from sewage discharges, mariculture, fish processing plants, and pulp and paper mill effluents. Historically, Beluga whale (Delphinapterus leucas) populations have been under intense hunting pressure in the St. Lawrence Estuary.
Presently, belugas suffer from diseases associated with a suppressed immune system and the concentration of industrial toxic products (e.g., DDT) in their blubber.
Temperate Shelf and Seas
Atlantic Ocean off northeast North America
What is so peculiar about marine worms?
Marine worms ingest large quantities of sediment, and cause the decomposition of organic matter, releasing essential inorganic elements in the water. The tube-building worms can form hard structures on the sea floor that provide habitat for other animals.