June 25, 2016

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

For decades, researchers have been astounded by the richness and haunting beauty of the habitat and wildlife at ancient islands, underwater volcanoes and 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.

But the corals and anemones that form living habitats at these seamounts are fragile, uniquely adapted, long-lived and slow to reproduce. These characteristics make them vulnerable to human impacts.

Designating these deep-sea treasures as protected areas would safeguard their ecological and cultural value from the threats of oil drilling, mining, and other industries. It would also protect recreational and charter boat fishing opportunities and other forms of recreation, now and into the future.

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 about California Seamounts.