Ocean Protection, Marine Protected Areas
January 11 2017

California Seamounts: Underwater Treasures Worthy of Protection

by Pete Stauffer

Click below to watch a short video on California's magnificent underwater seamounts.

Protect California Seamounts from Surfrider Foundation on Vimeo.

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 deep‐water 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 like mining, drilling, fishing and climate change. In fact, less than one percent of California’s deep offshore waters are permanently protected.

The Surfrider Foundation is part of a growing coalition of groups and businesses that supports habitat protections for these special places. Last fall, Congressmen Sam Farr and Ted Lieu introduced the California Seamounts and Ridges National Marine Conservation Area Designation and Management Act (H.R. 5797) to protect seamounts, ridges and banks in federal waters off the California coastline. The bill failed to pass last session, but Surfrider and our partners will continue to raise awareness about these places and advocate for their protection.

Our vision is a network of marine protected areas (MPAs) that will protect these special places from threats like offshore drilling, mining, overfishing and other harmful activities, while remaining open to recreational and charter boat fishing, scuba diving, paddling, and other low impact activities. To learn more please visit the links below. 

Visit the Calfornia Seamounts webpage

Watch the California Seamounts video

Sign the petition to federal leaders click here

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