Mystic — One hundred and fifty miles east of Cape Cod, a unique undersea landscape of deep canyons and high mountains supports a diverse ecosystem, abundant with colorful corals, fragile sponges, beaked whales, dragonfish and mussels adapted to living in methane hydrate seeps, that is being considered for protection as a National Monument.

Two leading advocates for the designation, which would be given by President Barack Obama under the American Antiquities Act before he leaves office in January, explained why they are lobbying for the designation Tuesday to an audience of both conservation advocates and commercial fishing representatives concerned about losing valuable fishing grounds.

U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., and Peter Auster, retired University of Connecticut marine science professor and currently the senior research scientist at the Mystic Aquarium, made their case for declaring the New England Coral Canyons and Seamounts as a Marine National Monument during a program Tuesday evening at the aquarium.

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