Seamounts of the Azores

Seamounts are common topographic features in the EEZ of the Azores. The archipelago of the Azores is composed of 9 volcanic islands distributed in 3 groups in the north-eastern Atlantic. The size of the Azores EEZ is about 1 000 000 km2, with an average depth of about 3,000 meters. The large occurrence of seamounts is imputable to the volcanic and tectonically active seafloor, typical of this region.

A total of 63 large (height exceeding 1000 meters) and 398 small (height comprised between 200 and 1000 meters) seamounts have been described in the Azorean EEZ, with a density of 3.3 peaks per 1000 km2 and a mean abundance of 0.42 and 0.07 small and large seamounts, respectively, per 1000 km2. Most of the seamounts have deep summits, between 800 to 1500m.

The Azorean seamounts ecosystems are of considerable biological interest and are extremely important also at the economic and, indirectly, social level.

They are hotspots of marine life: shallow seamounts act as aggregating sites for some marine predators.

The fish skipjack (Katsuwonus pelamis), bigeye tuna (Thunnus obesus), the common dolphin (Delphinus delphis) and the Cory’s shearwater (Calonectris diomedea borealis) have been recorded to be more abundant close to some shallow water seamount summits (shallower than 400 m depth).

via Seamounts in the Azores.

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