Monday, October 28, 2013

'Hope Spots' -- Building an ocean legacy

A hope spot is an area of ocean that merits special protection
because of its wildlife and significant underwater habitants

From Mission Blue

Hope Spots are special places that are critical to the health of the ocean — Earth’s blue heart.

Some of these Hope Spots are already formally protected, while others still need defined protection.
About 12 % of the land around the world is now under some form of protection (as national parks, world heritage sites, monuments, etc.), while less than one percent of the ocean is protected in any way.

Mission Blue is committed to changing this.
Networks of marine protected areas maintain healthy biodiversity, provide a carbon sink, generate life-giving oxygen, preserve critical habitat and allow low-impact activities like ecotourism to thrive.
They are good for the ocean, which means they are good for us.
We are often asked, “How much protection is enough?”
We can only answer with another question: How much of your heart is worth protecting?

Existing Hope Spots

1 Chagos Archipelago The Chagos archipelago is located in the middle of the Indian Ocean and consists of 55 low-lying coral islands that span across 550,000 square kilometers. Chagos waters are home to the world’s largest coral atoll and contain as much as half of the Indian Ocean’s remaining healthy reefs.

2 Outer Sechelles North of Madagascar, off Africa’s coast, just beyond the Seychelles Plateau are the OuterSeychelles. Scattered in the middle of the Indian Ocean, the Outer Seychelles are acollection of five coralline island groups that include 72 low-lying sand cays and atolls.

3 Coral Triangle The Coral Triangle is a marine area located in the western Pacific Ocean. It includes the waters of Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Papua New Guinea, Timor-Leste and Solomon Islands. The Coral Triangle is a global center for biodiversity and is considered by many to be the most diverse marine ecosystem in the world.

4 Micronesian Islands The Micronesian Islands are located in the western South Pacific Ocean. The 2,100 tropical islands scattered across the heart of the Pacific offer some of the most pristine and bio-diverse underwater environments on Earth.

5 Coral Sea The Coral Sea is a marginal sea off the northeast coast of Australia. Named for its staggering number of corals, this area includes the Great Barrier Reef and is one of the most diverse marine habitats on Earth. Spectacular coral reefs, remote islands and towering underwater mountains along with deep-sea canyons add to the diversity and uniqueness of this area.

6 Kermadec Trench The Kermadec Trench is a submarine trench in the floor of the South Pacific Ocean just to the east of the Kemadec Islands and northeast of mainland New Zealand. The Kermadec Trench is one of the Earth’s deepest oceanic trenches, plunging more than 10 kilometers beneath the ocean’s surface — about five times deeper than the Grand Canyon.

7 Gulf of California The Gulf of California, also known as the Sea of Cortez, is a large inlet in the eastern Pacific Ocean located along the northwestern coast of Mexico. Covering about 160,000 square kilometers, the Gulf of California covers 4,000 kilometers of coastline and reaches depths of over 3,000 meters.

8 Gulf of Mexico Deep Reefs Along the Continental Shelf of the Gulf of Mexico, there are some 200 shelf-edge reefs and banks that are biodiversity hotspots. These reefs and banks support an abundance of soft corals, subtropical and tropical invertebrates and more than 90 species of fish, including many large predators.

9 Patagonian Shelf The Patagonian Shelf is part of the South American continental shelf on the Atlantic seaboard. Two currents mix in the waters near the Patagonian Shelf — the southward flowing Brazil Current, which is warm and saline mixes with the northward flowing Falklands or Malvinas Current carrying cool, less saline, nutrient-rich sub-Antarctic water.

10 Eastern Pacific Seascape The Eastern Pacific Seascape spans Central and South America, covering a total of 2 million square kilometers. A number of the world’s most important natural habitats lie within the Eastern Pacific Seascape, including Malpelo and Cocos Islands, Coiba, and the Galapagos, where Charles Darwin carried out his groundbreaking research. Each region within the Eastern Pacific Seascape has unique environmental, economic and cultural importance.

11 Chilean Fjords & Islands With over 83,850 kilometers of coastline, and a number of offshore islands, Chile’s marine territory is vast. Southern fjords offer important habitats for whales, dolphins, seals and other marine mammals, while the placid waters below the surface host a diverse array of coral, including several species unique to the area.

12 Ross Sea The Ross Sea is a deep bay found in the Southern Ocean. It’s mostly ice covered waters are composed of two related ecosystems: the Ross Sea Shelf Ecosystem and the Ross Sea Slope Ecosystem. The Ross Sea is often referred to as the most pristine marine ecosystem on earth — unlike most of the world’s ocean it has remained relatively free from widespread pollution, invasive species, mining and overfishing.

13 Mesoamerican Reefs The Mesoamerican Reef region lies within the Caribbean, extending from Isla Contoy on the north of the Yucatan Peninsula to the Bay Islands of Honduras. It is the second longest barrier reef and is home to over 350 species of mollusk and 500 species of fish, including the whale shark — the largest fish in the world.

14 Gulf of Guinea Part of the eastern tropical Atlantic Ocean, the Gulf of Guinea is located off the western coast of Africa. The marine flora and fauna of this region remains relatively unknown, but this area is largely intact and recognized as a critical area to protect in order to preserve African biodiversity conservation.

15 Charlie Gibbs Fracture Zone The Charlie Gibbs Fracture Zone is a major transversal topographical feature located beyond the limits of national jurisdiction. Reaching depths ranging from 700 meters to 4,500 meters, the Charlie Gibbs Fracture Zone is a system of two main parallel deep rift valleys.

16 Sargasso Sea Located off the shores of Bermuda in international waters, the Sargasso Sea is the Earth’s only sea without a land boundary. The open-ocean ecosystem lies within the high seas and is bounded by currents circulating around the North Atlantic sub-tropical gyre.

17 Gakkel Ridge The Gakkel Ridge is the deepest and most remote portion of the global mid-ocean ridge system. The diversity of life found surrounding the hydrothermal vents of the Gakkel Ridge are not well known, but it is thought that the unique ecosystem hosts’ distinctive and diverse life found nowhere else on earth.

18 Bahamian Reefs The Bahamas are located off the southeastern tip of Florida and host forests, wetlands, swamps, and the Andros Barrier Reef, the second largest barrier reef in the western hemisphere. The Bahamas island eco-region consists of over 3,000 low-lying islands and covers over 14,000 square kilometers.

19 Bering Sea Deep Canyons Home to ocean albatross and kittiwakes, orcas, walrus and fur seals, king crab, squid, salmon and cold water corals, the Bering Sea Canyons Hope Spot supports a near endless variety of life. But the Bering Sea’s beautiful and carefully-balanced marine environments are in danger, threatened by industrial fishing that is depleting the region’s resources and risking destruction of this Hope Spot.

 Marine protected areas: the current state of play
protecting 2.8% of the Global Ocean
(Image: IUCN and UNEP-WCMC (Oct 2013). The World Database on Protected Areas (WDPA))

New Hope Spots

Proposed Hope Spots

  • 51 Kosterfjorden/Yttre Hvaler, Norway/Sweden
  • 52 Mergui archipelago, southern Burma
  • 53 Querimas Islands, northeastern Mozambique
  • 54 Spitzbergen Island

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