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Applying the EBSA criteria: GOBI's illustrations

The GOBI partnership works to advance the scientific basis for conserving marine biodiversity in deep seas and open oceans around the world. GOBI has recently been awarded funding for a 5-year programme of work - to find out more about this please visit

Uniqueness or rarity

EBSA Illustration The Saya de Malha Banks by Marjo Vierros — last modified May 01, 2010 02:55 PM
The Saya de Malha Banks are the largest submerged banks in the world containing a unique seagrass biotope in the open ocean. Due to their remoteness, the Saya de Malha Banks are host to some of the least explored shallow tropical marine ecosystems globally, completely detached from land boundaries, and providing an ecologically important oasis of high productivity in the Indian Ocean.
EBSA Illustration The Sargasso Sea by Sheila McKenna, Arlo Hemphill — last modified Sep 08, 2009 12:25 PM
Alone in supporting the center of distribution for a holopelagic (continuously pelagic) drift algae (Sargassum spp.) community, the Sargasso Sea is a globally unique marine ecosystem whose entire water column provides a range of critical services (e.g. habitats, migratory routes, spawning and feeding grounds) to a multitude of species including endemic, endangered and commercially important ones. To illustrate how such an area can meet the EBSA criterion for uniqueness, information on the biological, ecological and oceanographic features of the Sargasso Sea from peer reviewed literature, technical reports and data sets were examined and compared to the four other similar regions of the ocean found within subtropical gyres.

GOBI Illustrations in Google Earth

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Special importance for life history of species

EBSA Illustration Areas of special importance for the Antipodean Albatross (Diomedea antipodensis) in the Tasman Sea by Ben Lascelles, Lincoln Fishpool — last modified Sep 08, 2009 02:48 PM
Satellite tracking data have been used to identify sites that may qualify as Important Bird Areas (IBA) for the Antipodean Albatross during different life-history stages. As the IBA and EBSA criteria overlap in key ways, we describe an area of importance in the Tasman Sea and the methods used to identify this site. We suggest this approach could also be used to inform the identification of seabird EBSAs.
EBSA Illustration Tracking Juvenile Loggerhead Sea Turtles (Caretta caretta) by Ei Fujioka, Catherine McClellan — last modified Sep 08, 2009 02:50 PM
Juvenile loggerhead sea turtles from the east coast of the United States are shown to often take long migratory journeys through open-ocean waters. Using telemetry data from tagged loggerhead sea turtles, we identified an area of special importance based on a kernel home range of the turtles from the Gulf Stream to the Azores.
EBSA Illustration Pacific White Sharks by Andre Boustany — last modified Sep 09, 2009 01:23 PM
Adult white sharks tracked from several sites along the North American coast travel to a region in the northeastern Pacific, equidistant between Baja California and Hawaii, where they remain for up to six months. It remains unclear whether these represent breeding or feeding migrations
EBSA Illustration Northern elephant seals (Mirounga angustirostris) by Autumn-Lynn Harrison — last modified Sep 08, 2009 04:35 PM
Female northern elephant seals undertake a long foraging migration in the North Pacific each year, building a reserve for subsequent months spent fasting on land while giving birth, nourishing a pup, and breeding. Using data from the Tagging of Pacific Predators project (, we identify an area of high female northern elephant seal density during their annual 6-8 month foraging migration, indicating it is an area of special importance for life history stages of this species.

Biological productivity

EBSA Illustration Sea Surface Temperature Fronts by Jason Roberts — last modified Sep 08, 2009 09:32 PM
Dynamic physical ocean processes such as upwellings, currents, and eddies promote biological productivity and structure marine ecosystems by aggregating and dispersing nutrients and organisms. In this illustration, we identify potential EBSAs in two zones of high dynamic activity, detected by measuring how frequently sea surface temperature fronts occur.
EBSA Illustration Pacific Equatorial Upwelling by Jason Roberts — last modified Sep 08, 2009 09:28 PM
Oceanographers estimate production of phytoplankton ("primary production”) worldwide from satellite observations. Using these data, we can identify an area of high productivity around the Pacific equatorial upwelling

Importance for threatened, endangered or declining species and habitats

EBSA Illustration Pacific Leatherback Turtles by Andre Boustany — last modified Sep 04, 2009 03:45 PM
New tracking technologies have allowed researchers to examine the movements of the critically endangered Pacific Leatherback turtle. Several years of tracking have revealed a consistent foraging area for leatherback turtles in the South Pacific Gyre.
EBSA Illustration Establishing at-sea habitat preferences as a means of delineating EBSAs for threatened species: an example of the identification of Important Bird Areas (IBAs) in the Bering Sea for the Short-tailed Albatross (Phoebastria albatrus) by Ben Lascelles, Lincoln Fishpool — last modified Sep 08, 2009 02:49 PM
Integrating different distributional datasets (especially from remote-recording instruments and at-sea surveys) is likely to be important in identifying EBSAs for a variety of top predators found on the high seas. In this example we look at how satellite tracking data and vessel survey data can be used to identify IBAs based on habitat preferences for a threatened seabird, the Short-tailed Albatross.

Vulnerability, fragility, sensitivity, slow recovery

EBSA Illustration Global habitat suitability for reef forming cold-water corals by John Guinotte, Andrew Davies, Jeff Ardron — last modified Sep 09, 2009 01:28 PM
Reef-forming cold water corals are known to be very sensitive to anthropogenic activities, are expected to be heavily impacted by ocean acidification, and are known to have very slow recovery rates. Using known locations of the six reef-forming cold water coral species, amassed from research and cruise data bases (2732 records), we predict areas of suitable coral habitat throughout the world based on 26 environmental conditions. The fine spatial resolution of these predictions (1 km x 1 km) allows for consideration of these possible EBSAs at a scale suitable for conservation measures.

Biological diversity

EBSA Illustration Global Patterns of Biodiversity by Edward Vanden Berghe — last modified Sep 04, 2009 03:29 PM
Diversity is a function of two factors: number of species (Species Richness) and number of specimens belonging to these species (Evenness). Several indices measuring diversity have been proposed, giving more or less weight to either of these two factors. To illustrate global patterns of biodiversity, Hurlbert’s index, for a sample size of 50 specimens, is calculated on the OBIS data holdings.
EBSA Illustration Prediction of Biodiversity - Richness and Evenness by Piers Dunstan — last modified Sep 04, 2009 08:15 PM
Patterns in biodiversity can be illustrated by variation in the number of species (richness) and whether these species are evenly distributed or dominated by a minority (evenness). Combining these two properties of biodiversity leads to the identification of uncommon communities that are deserving of greater protection. In this application we use a statistically rigorous analysis of species ranks combined with physical samples to predict patterns in biodiversity through the physical space. This extends our information from known biological samples to the broader environment, with measured uncertainty.
EBSA Illustration Overlap between hotspots of marine mammal biodiversity and global seamount distributions by Kaschner, K., J. Ready, E. Agbayani, P. Eastwood, T. Rees, K. Reyes, J. Rius & R. Froese — last modified Sep 09, 2009 01:41 PM
AquaMaps is a species distribution model available as an online web service that generates standardized range maps and the relative probability of occurrence within that range for currently more than 9000 marine species from available point occurrences and other types of habitat usage information (Kaschner et al, 2006, Ready et al, accepted). By overlaying AquaMaps predictions for a subset of individual species (namely 115 marine mammals), we produced a global map of biodiversity patterns that shows the co-occurrence of predicted hotspots of marine mammal species richness and off-shore seamounts.


EBSA Illustration South East Atlantic Seamounts by Jesse Cleary, Ashley Rowden, Mireille Consalvey, Malcolm Clark — last modified Oct 12, 2009 10:30 AM
Global datasets of predicted large seamount locations have been created from ocean bathymetry. These data were combined with historical catch data from seamount fisheries and other anthropogenic marine impacts to identify areas of low impact including the waters around the Discovery tablemount group in the South East Atlantic.
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