Seamounts

Page - January 31, 2007
The beautiful and extraordinary life on seamounts and other deep sea areas is under serious threat from bottom trawling, one of the most destructive fishing practices ever devised.

Most of New Zealand is submerged and forms deep-sea plateaus, volcanoes and mountain ranges, commonly known as seamounts.

Deep under the ocean, colossal mountains, and mountain ranges rise from the sea floor, their peaks far beneath the surface. The biggest are called 'seamounts'.

These underwater mountains are oases of life.

Nutrient rich currents well up and swirl around their slopes feeding diverse and extraordinary ecosystems.

Some seamounts are bigger than Aoraki/Mt Cook rising over 1,000 metres above the surrounding seafloor.

More than 30,000 seamounts are scattered across the earth's oceans.

There are approximately 800 underwater mountains in New Zealand waters.

 

The Earth's longest mountain range is not on land but under the sea - The Mid-Oceanic Ridge winds around the globe from the Arctic Ocean to the Atlantic. It is four times longer than the Andes, Rockies, and Himalayas combined.

Ancient forest habitats

On some seamounts, groves of towering corals reach up into the darkness, catching food in their open fans. Some corals are thousands of years old, several storeys high, with trunks as thick as lamp posts.

These slow growing corals are the ancient forests of the deep. Sea spiders, whelks, octopus, squid and other marine species weave their way through the forest while crabs and other crustaceans hide in crevices.

In the sediments a myriad of worms, clams, shells and small crustaceans thrive.

Many seamount-dwelling species are not found anywhere else on earth, and it is believed that some are confined to only one or two individual seamounts.

Seamounts, with their deep-sea coral forests, have been home to strange and wonderful creatures for millions of years.

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