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Monterey Canyon


Many of Earth’s highest peaks, deepest valleys, and most extensive plains are found in the ocean. The undersea Monterey Canyon in California descends over two miles—twice as deep as Arizona’s Grand Canyon. From the wavy surface to the blackest depths, Monterey Canyon teems with beautiful and bizarre organisms. Thriving in absolute darkness on the seafloor are creatures that rely on chemical energy derived from methane rather than sunlight. In the overlying water column, the canyon supports a variety of creatures that spend their lives drifting on currents, including jellyfish, squid, and lanternfish. The diversity of life in the surface waters above Monterey Canyon includes fish, sea turtles, seabirds, and marine mammals, which congregate to feed in this productive environment. Rockfish and sea otters, among others, find shelter in the rich coastal kelp forests. Giant kelp, a type of algae that can grow up to two feet per day, is the largest plant in the ocean reaching nearly 200 feet in length. Together these huge algae and their microscopic cousins, phytoplankton, provide the Earth with oxygen essential to our survival.



Ecological Uniqueness
Endangered Species
Oceanographic and Bathymetric Features



Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary
Monterey Bay- Encyclopedia of the Sanctuary
Monterey Canyon and the Deep Sea - Monterey Bay Aquarium
SIMoN : Sanctuary Integrated Monitoring Network
Giant Kelp
Submerged Maritime Heritage Resource: USS Macon


Giant kelp forest.

Bathymetric map of Monterey Canyon. Image: Monterey Bay Aquarium, USGS, Space Imaging, National Geographic Maps

Vermillion rockfish. Photo: NOAA