Seamounts: Hot Spots of Underwater Biodiversity
Seamounts—large mountains that rise high from the seafloor—result from volcanic activity and are found in every ocean basin on Earth. But did you know that they’re also a critical habitat for a variety of ocean life?
These largely unexplored geologic formations are home to anywhere between 15% and 35% of all endemic species—species that are found nowhere else in the world. The complex current patterns created by seamounts’ steep flanks help distribute nutrients to myriad species. It also removes waste and sediment buildup on the seamount and fosters an ideal habitat for coral and sponge communities, which are habitats themselves and can often live thousands of years. Unfortunately, these diverse underwater habitats are facing increased threats from large-scale fishing, deep-sea mining, and climate change. We can help protect these vital ocean features by establishing marine protected areas and other effective conservation measures.