Story | 23 Oct, 2008

High Seas Gems: Hidden Treasures of Our Blue Earth

The largest, least-protected places on our blue planet are found in the high seas - the open ocean and deep seabed that lie seaward of individual nations’ jurisdictions. Extending from the Southern Ocean surrounding Antarctica to most of the Indian, Pacific, Atlantic and Arctic Oceans and the Mediterranean Sea, these areas cover 45% of the Earth’s surface. Hidden beneath the surface of the high seas are extraordinary places that are in urgent need of our protection. Belonging to no single nation,
they have been, for too long, neglected by all.

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Photo: MCBI - IUCN

The global community recently decided that key high seas ecosystems should be protected, and agreed on a common set of criteria to start selecting these areas. To help them, scientists from around the world were asked to name examples of high seas sites that reflect these criteria as areas of concentrated abundance or diversity, rarity, naturalness, or vulnerability; or which function as key habitats, such as feeding and breeding grounds for longdistance migrants. The ten sites described in this brochure illustrate just a few of the special places scientists suggested and that merit further conservation consideration.