A healthy ecosystem means protecting ecologically sensitive areas of seafloor such as sponges and deep-sea corals. These areas, in turn, support an abundance of groundfish that makes sustainable fishing possible. As we continue to learn more about habitat deep beneath the surface, we must take care to protect these places from damaging fishing practices, such as bottom trawls that drag along the seafloor.

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Fact Sheet

Protect Deep-Sea Ocean Floor Along U.S. West Coast

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Fact Sheet

Mention the word “coral,” and images of tropical reefs, sunlit waters, and palm trees are likely to come to mind. But scientists are discovering that some of the world’s most lush and vibrant coral gardens lie thousands of meters beneath the ocean’s surface, where the temperature can be frigid and the light absent. These cold-water corals are even found more than 3 kilometers (1.86 miles) deep. Once thought to be lifeless mud, this deep habitat is in fact dynamic, fragile, and critically important to life on Earth because of its role in storing carbon and nurturing half of the biomass in the world’s oceans.

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Issue brief
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Young China rockfish nestled within a colony of California hydrocoral
Issue Brief

Let's Protect Critical Ocean Habitat

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Issue Brief

Let's Protect Critical Ocean Habitat

An amazing world lies beneath the ocean surface off the West Coast of the United States. Close to shore kelp forests shelter and nourish young groundfish and also attract an abundance of small, schooling forage fish. Farther out, dozens of species of groundfish live within the rocky reefs, canyons, and deep-water corals and sponges that characterize the relatively narrow continental shelf and its steep slopes. Beyond that lie the deep and mysterious abyssal plains, revealing new discoveries with every exploration.

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Young China rockfish nestled within a colony of California hydrocoral
Young China rockfish nestled within a colony of California hydrocoral
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