The Gully: See why Canada's underwater canyon needs to be protected

It's been 20 years now since the Gully, the largest underwater canyon in Eastern North America, was designated Atlantic Canada's first Marine Protected Area back in May of 2004.

A hotspot for biodiversity and life, it's home to hundreds of species, from tiny plankton to northern bottlenose whales.

Most striking are a wide diversity of colourful deep sea corals that live on the canyon walls.

"One type of coral is called the bubblegum coral, which very much looks like bubblegum as it's pink," says DFO Senior Oceans Biologist Derek Fenton. "It supports a variety of fish and animals."

DFO - Bubblegum coral
DFO - Bubblegum coral

A bubblegum coral can live for hundreds of years on the deep seafloor | Courtesy: DFO

The Gully is over 2,500 square kilometres -- measuring 80 km long, 15 km wide and over 3 km deep.

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Being protected, means activity is limited to research and transit of vessels, which helps to reduce noise for whales. Some activity like long-line fishing for halibut is still permitted.

DFO - Gully starfish
DFO - Gully starfish

The Gully is home to hundreds of species, from tiny plankton to northern bottlenose whales | Courtesy: DFO

The Gully is at the intersection of major oceanic currents, with the Gulf stream coming up from the south and the cold Labrador current, which runs along the shelf.

See more of the spectacular bubblegum coral in the video above.