- California’s seamounts are at the frontier of scientific discovery, and they are vital climate change refuges, but they are susceptible to threats from fishing and other extractive industries. Currently, only the seafloor and the area immediately above the summit of the extraordinary Davidson Seamount are protected by the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, leaving most of the water column unprotected and countless animals at risk.
You can make a difference! Sign our letter to help fully protect the marine wildlife at Davidson Seamount.
This pelagic Grimpoteuthis species of octopus, photographed at Davidson Seamount, lives in the water column, only rarely touching down on bottom. Photo: OET/NOAA
Our Letter to National Marine Sanctuary Managers:
Dear Mr. Douros and Mr. Michel:
We, the undersigned, are concerned that the latest conservation management plan proposed for the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary and Davidson Seamount would allow continued commercial fishing in much of the water column above the seamount. As you well know, the California seamounts collect a vast and spectacular array of wildlife –colorful sponges, corals, and fish--on their slopes, and abundant and diverse marine life in the water column above. As the ocean warms, places like Davidson Seamount are becoming even more critical as climate refuges for ocean life, but to provide complete conservation benefits, refuges like seamounts need protection for the entire ecosystem from the deep bottom all the way to the surface of the ocean.
The Davidson Seamount has often been called an Oasis of the Deep, filled with fragile deep sea corals below and teeming above with marine life such as whales, seabirds, sea turtles, tuna, sharks, and swordfish. But the proposed Sanctuary plan does not protect the waters above the seamount (from the surface to 3,000 feet down fishing is allowed). Monterey Bay Sanctuary’s own report on threats to the seamount [page 15] documents risks to the whole ecosystem from commercial fishing for tuna, sharks and swordfish.
Many ocean conservation studies show that removal of top predators like tuna and sharks from surface waters can not only effect the abundance of the smaller fish they eat but also ripple through the food web below. Removing top predators can even have an impact on zooplankton and plankton all down at the base of the food chain and reduce the diversity of marine life in the area.[i] Further, there are very few fully protected open ocean marine protected areas in the world; Davidson Seamount would be an important addition.[ii]
We believe it is imperative for the water column above the seamount to be fully protected from fishing and other forms of ocean extraction. Fishing, especially commercial fishing, can change the entire seamount ecosystem from seafloor to the top of the ocean. We should not let that continue.
Yours in ocean protection,
[Your name here]
[i] Julia K. Baum and Boris Worm. (2009) Cascading top-down effects of changing oceanic predator abundances. British Ecological Society, Journal of Animal Ecology 78, 699–714
Guillermo Ortuño Crespo and Daniel C. Dunn. (2017) A review of the impacts of fisheries on open-ocean ecosystems. ICES Journal of Marine Science, doi:10.1093/icesjms/fsx084
[ii] Edward T. Game et. al. (2009) Pelagic protected areas: the missing dimension in ocean conservation, Trends in Ecology and Evolution, add rest of reference.
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Excited About Seamounts?
There are so many ways to engage!
- Learn more about our California Seamounts campaign!
- Browse our multimedia Story Maps, where you can learn about the science of exploring the deep sea, and meet some of the weird and dazzling animals that call these underwater volcanoes home.
- Watch our Seamount Shorts -- a series of beautiful videos that explore the seamount ecosystems, narrated by Peter Coyote.
- Sign our Seamountaineer Pledge and join us in protecting this network of extraordinary underwater oases!