Published:January 01, 1972
Biologic studies along the Atlantic coast of North America, as well as elsewhere in the world, have been far more numerous than studies of other aspects of oceanography. Similarly, ease of access has led to a dominance in knowledge of shore and shallow-water forms. The requirements for ships, expensive equipment, and research coordination effectively restrict deep-water biology to large organizations. Thus, the more important early collections and studies of the offshore area were made by the U.S. Fish Commission (now the National Marine Fisheries Service) because of the interests of a succession of farsighted directors and active scientists.
Detailed studies of benthic animals and their ecology, such as those of Verrill (1873) in Vineyard Sound, led to the establishment of such regional bureau laboratories as the one at Woods Hole (Galtsoff, 1962), which was founded in 1885, and permitted even more detailed ecologic and other studies (Sumner et al., 1913). Completion of similar work at other laboratories along the coast resulted in the recognition of broad zoogeographic coastal zones that are based chiefly on optimum temperatures for reproduction and both higher and lower limiting temperatures for survival (Dana, 1853; Verrill, 1874; Hutchins, 1947). The generally accepted zoogeographic zones (C. W. Johnson, 1934; Hedgpeth, 1953; Valentine, 1963; Hazel, 1970) are: Arctic—Arctic to Newfoundland; Boreal—Newfoundland to Cape Cod; Virginian—Cape Cod to Cape Hatteras; Carolinian— Cape Hatteras to Cape Canaveral; Caribbean— Cape Canaveral to Tampa; Northeast Gulf— Tampa to Mississippi River; Northwest Gulf— Mississippi River to Matagorda Island; and Texas Transitional—Matagorda Island to
Figures & Tables
Western North Atlantic Ocean: Topography, Rocks, Structure, Water, Life, and Sediments
The Atlantic coast of North America was the first part of the New World to be described by maps and texts; its exploration begain with the Vikings nearly a thousand years ago. Since then, the pace of exploration of both land and ocean floor has increased steadily. The concern during the 1960s was with details of geology, water, and life that largely were bypassed during earlier stages of discovery and exploration. The accumulation of knowledge was expressed approximately by the publication of charts, articles, and tabulations of data. This publication is concerned with the Atlantic continental margin of the United States, and it necessarily includes some information about the adjacent land and ocean areas. It is a summary of the existing knowledge of the ocean floor, the water above it, and the life that is in the water or at the bottom. The chapters contained within the publication fall into seven categories: Physiography, Rocks, Structure, Water, Life, Sediments, and Origin of Continental Margin.