California Seamounts Are Sylvia Earle’s Newest “Hope Spots”

Date: June 12, 2019

Source: Hakai Magazine
Author: Matt Koller

Nearly 180 kilometers off the coast of San Diego, California, there’s a surf break that, from time to time, spawns waves rising taller than two telephone poles stacked on top of each other. They inspire awe—and caution—in those driving the boats carrying big-wave surfers in search of the next world record. Yet there’s another hazard lurking in these waters: Bishop Rock, the summit of an enormous underwater mountain, lies just a meter or two below the surface. When the sea is particularly rough, Bishop Rock can poke its head through the troughs of larger swells.

Bishop Rock is the peak of one of 60 underwater mountains—or seamounts—off the coast of California that rise more than a kilometer from the seafloor. Last month Mission Blue, a conservation organization founded by famed oceanographer Sylvia Earle, designated all of these seamounts as Hope Spots. Hope Spots are areas critical to the health of the ocean for any number of reasons: an abundance or diversity of species, a unique habitat or ecosystem, or significant cultural or economic value to a community, to name a few.

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