Today, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, the Haida Nation, Oceana Canada and Ocean Networks Canada announced a new partnership to share resources, knowledge and expertise to better understand and protect seamounts (underwater mountains) near the islands of Haida Gwaii.
From July 5-21, 2018, Canadians can join the partners as they explore the mystery and wonder of the seamounts. Daily livestream footage of the seafloor and updates from the expedition team will be available during the expedition on ProtectOceans.ca.
Protecting seamounts is internationally recognized as important for healthy oceans. Seamounts are offshore biodiversity hotspots. These highly-structured environments are ideal for coral and sponge growth, in turn providing nursery and foraging habitat important for fish populations and other marine life.
This summer, the group will spend 16 days aboard the Ocean Exploration Trust’s state-of-the-art vessel, E/V Nautilus, studying three seamounts: SGaan Kinghlas-Bowie, Dellwood and Explorer.
Seamounts can be found in every ocean but are particularly abundant in the Pacific Ocean, with many near the islands’ of Haida Gwaii. Up until the 1980s, seamounts were not widely studied, and scientists have only begun to learn about their ecological importance. Research from this expedition will help us better understand this critical marine habitat and support management of these areas, including the implementation of additional protection measures.
“The ocean is complex, and it takes a diverse partnership like this one to help us understand our blue planet's deep-sea engine. Ocean Networks Canada is thrilled to contribute to this exciting collaboration with our world-leading ocean observing technology, which provides the ocean ‘intelligence’ decision-makers need to preserve and protect ocean ecosystems for future generations.” - Kate Moran, President & CEO, Ocean Networks Canada
Read the press release for more details about the expedition.
- Oceans are central to human life, covering nearly three-quarters of our planet, holding 97% of the earth’s water, and producing more than half of the oxygen in the atmosphere. It also is a source of food, and economic, social and cultural value that people around the world depend on.
- Seamounts are underwater mountains that rise thousands of meters from the seafloor. Most seamounts are extinct underwater volcanoes and are surrounded by deep, muddy abyssal plains. Their steep, rocky sides provide unique habitat for many seafloor species, such as cold-water corals and sponges, and fish like rockfish.
- Only a small percentage of seamounts have been mapped, but scientists estimate that the Pacific Ocean alone contains 30,000 to 50,000 seamounts above 3,280 feet (1,000 meters) tall.
- Currently, 87% of known seamounts in Canada are within an Area of Interest located off the coast of British Columbia. More research can help scientists better understand this critical marine habitat and support more permanent protection measures such as the creation of a Marine Protected Area.