June 25, 2016

What are seamounts and why do we need to protect them?

Seamounts are massive underwater volcanoes that support incredibly high levels of marine life. For decades, researchers have been astounded by the richness and haunting beauty of the habitats and wildlife found on these extensive deep-sea mountain ranges off the California coast.

These special places support endangered fin and blue whales, endangered white abalone, unique anglerfish, rare deepwater corals and sponges, and many other species. Some seamounts serve as fueling stations for migratory species like endangered sperm whales and sea turtles, seabirds and sharks. And they also provide outstanding recreational opportunities for fishing and deepwater diving.

Unfortunately, many of the deep-sea animals that form the basis of the living habitats found on seamounts are fragile, uniquely adapted, long-lived and slow to reproduce. These characteristics make them vulnerable to human impacts ranging from overfishing, climate change, oil drilling, mineral mining, and pollution. 

The seamounts off the California coast urgently need strong, permanent protection from these threats. Designating these deep-sea treasures as protected areas would safeguard their ecological and cultural value for us and for generations to come.

Click here to download a short overview of California’s seamounts and the effort underway to safeguard them.

Click here to download a technical whitepaper that overviews the distribution, biology, and conservation status of the California Seamounts.

Click here to download a technical whitepaper exploring ten of the most well-known seamounts off the coast of California.