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Seamounts are massive underwater volcanoes that occur across the planet. They attract and support large numbers of animals including fish, sharks, sea turtles, seabirds, and marine mammals at the surface and shelter an incredible array of deep-sea life, including cold-water corals and sponges that build crucial structures, or ‘homes’, for large amounts of marine life on the bottom. These habitats are the ‘old-growth forests’ of the ocean – they are long-lived, slow growing, and extremely slow to recover following disturbance from activities like bottom trawling or seabed mining. Of the 10,000 plus seamounts known to exist, only around 10% are protected from some type of destruction. Marine Conservation Institute has a campaign to protect the 60 seamounts off the coast of California and is working with partners to protect many more around the world.

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By Jessica Knoth, Marine Conservation Institute Intern & Photographer Underwater forests and meadows are not so different from their terrestrial cousins. In place of deer and small critters, fish dart among the submerged grass. Seals glide through the water, much like bears patrolling the woods, and kelp sways overhead instead of evergreens. Just as terrestrial plants…

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