August 27, 2013
Today was the final day of our Pacific research expedition off the Oregon coast. We left Newport before daybreak bound for Stonewall Bank, more than 15 miles west. The seas calmed overnight and we had perfect conditions for conducting our research dives.
We completed four dives today: two in an area that we are proposing be closed to bottom trawling and two in an area that was closed to bottom trawling in 2005 as an “Essential Fish Habitat Conservation Area.” In our proposal area to the north, we found large rocky reef features. There were corals, large anemones, sponges, alien-looking basket stars, and rockfishes on the reef. We also found sea pens and flatfish in adjacent soft bottom habitats. Higher up on Stonewall Bank there were multiple types of colorful corals, many sponges, and a high diversity of fishes, including canary rockfish, juvenile and adult yelloweye rockfish, quillback, and lingcod.
Overall we completed 25 dives during this seven-day expedition. We collected 20 hours of full high-definition video of living seafloor habitats. We filmed areas never before seen in their natural state and made amazing discoveries of sensitive habitats, like glass sponges and corals in areas that Oceana recently proposed be closed to bottom trawling.
These areas are truly great ocean treasures. With oceans around the planet facing increasing threats from climate change to habitat loss to overfishing, we are fortunate to still have the opportunity to identify biologically diverse and rich ocean habitats. Now we must make certain these important ecological areas are conserved and maintained for generations to come.