Actress and ocean advocate Cobie Smulders is lending her voice to Oceana Canada’s call to support permanent protection for underwater mountains – seamounts - off the coast of British Columbia. In a short video that highlights the incredible biodiversity of these seamounts, Cobie takes viewers below the surface of the ocean to discover the marine life that relies on them.
“I wanted to be a marine biologist my whole life, until I graduated high school ,” says Cobie Smulders, ocean advocate and actress, best known for her role on How I Met Your Mother. “I love to scuba dive and know the beauty and importance of the ocean. I am proud to advocate with Oceana Canada to permanently protect the incredible underwater mountains found so close to where I grew up.”
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 by DFO in 2017.
“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, an expedition team comprised of Oceana Canada, DFO, the Haida Nation and Ocean Networks Canada set sail to further ocean research and help protect seamounts in the Pacific Ocean aboard the Ocean Exploration Trust’s EV Nautilus. On the 16-day, 2,500-kilometre expedition, we mapped and increased understanding of 13 seamounts, including six new ones, while observing an incredible abundance and diversity of marine life.
“What we saw underwater was nothing short of awe-inspiring. A remotely operated vehicle allowed us to explore thousands of metres into the dark ocean depths,” said Rangeley. “When we reached a seamount, it was often like we were entering a forest of red tree corals and vase-shaped glass sponges. These areas were filled with other animals including anemones, feather stars, octopuses, lobsters and rockfishes.”
Rangeley adds that with the expedition team’s discoveries, the importance of conserving the area was reinforced and strengthened. “We need to protect special places that provide refuge for marine life and strengthen ecosystem resilience in our increasingly threatened oceans.”
Canadians can add their name to help #ProtectSeamounts by signing Oceana Canada’s petition calling on Fisheries and Oceans Canada to permanently protect these underwater mountains from human activities that could damage them.
About Oceana Canada
Oceana Canada is an independent charity and part of the largest international advocacy group dedicated solely to ocean conservation. Oceana Canada believes that Canada has a national and global obligation to manage our natural resources responsibly and help ensure a sustainable source of protein for the world’s growing population. Oceana Canada works with civil society, academics, fishers, Indigenous Peoples and the federal government to return Canada’s formerly vibrant oceans to health and abundance. By restoring Canada’s oceans, we can strengthen our communities, reap greater economic and nutritional benefits, and protect our future.
For more information, please contact:
Kara-Ann Miel, Communications Advisor, Oceana Canada, 647.535.2360, firstname.lastname@example.org