A new video, narrated by actress and ocean advocate Cobie Smulders, calls for the permanent protection of an underwater mountain range off the coast of British Columbia. Seamounts are underwater mountains that rise over 1,000 metres from the seafloor. They are often extinct volcanoes, commonly found near tectonic plates, and hotspots for a diversity of life.
This short video showcases the beauty and importance of these ecosystems; Cobie takes viewers thousands of metres under the sea to discover the Northeast Pacific Seamounts and call for their protection.
Seamounts face increasing threats from destructive fishing practices, pollution, climate change and deep-sea mining. This call for support coincides with discussions between Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO), First Nations, fishing industry, local community representatives and environmental groups about regulations needed to permanently protect the area. Home to 75 per cent of seamounts found in Canadian waters, the area was deemed an area of interest (AOI) by DFO in 2017.
An area designated as an AOI means that the Government of Canada recognizes it as ecologically and biologically significant and is working towards formal protection through designation as a marine protected area (MPA).
“Seamounts are home to an abundance of marine species, from cold-water corals and sponges to rockfish and they even benefit animals that live above the seamounts like sharks and whales,” says Dr. Robert Rangeley, Oceana Canada’s Science Director. “These ecosystems are important to maintain biodiversity in the ocean and contribute greatly to ocean health. They are also fragile, and if damaged or destroyed, could take hundreds to thousands of years to recover.”
In 2018, we visited these underwater mountains on a 16-day, 2,500km expedition with DFO, the Haida Nation and Ocean Networks Canada, aboard the EV Nautilus. What we saw underwater was nothing short of awe-inspiring. We mapped and increased our understanding of 13 seamounts, including six new ones, while observing an incredible amount of marine species. With the expedition team’s discoveries, the importance of conserving the area was reinforced and strengthened.