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Davidson Seamount



As a result of management plan revision, a seven-year process involving public input and agency collaboration, Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary (MBNMS) expanded to include the Davidson Seamount in 2008. The Final Rule, which includes the boundary expansion, is available at

The Davidson Seamount is a pristine undersea mountain habitat off the coast of Central California, 80 miles to the southwest of Monterey and 75 miles west of San Simeon. At 26 miles long and 8 miles wide, it is one of the largest known seamounts in U.S. waters. From base to crest, the seamount is 7,480 ft tall, yet its summit is still 4,101 ft below the sea surface.

dsm map
Davidson Seamount Management Zone addition to the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary.
(Credit: Chad King/SIMoN/MBNMS)
Click Here For Larger Map

Davidson Seamount was the first to be characterized as a "seamount" in 1938 by the United States Board on Geographic Names, and was named in honor of the United Sates Coast and Geodetic Survey scientist George Davidson, a leader in charting the waters of the west coast.

Davidson Seamount is populated with a diversity of deep-sea corals, most of which have other species associated with them. It has been called "An Oasis in the Deep," hosting large coral forests, vast sponge fields, crabs, deep-sea fishes, shrimp, basket stars, and high numbers of rare and unidentified benthic species. The seamount has special national significance relative to ocean conservation, ecological, scientific, educational, aesthetic, and historical qualities.

New technology has only recently allowed scientists to bring back dramatic high resolution images from the deep sea, offering researchers and the public an opportunity to witness the never before seen glimpses of rare marine species living in this largely cold, dark, and mysterious habitat. The proximity of education and research institutions in the Monterey Bay region facilitate interdisciplinary collaborations that enhance research and education about this spectacular area.

The Office of National Marine Sanctuaries has determined that the Davidson Seamount requires protection from the take of or other injury to benthic organisms or those organisms living near the seafloor because of the seamount's special ecological and fragile qualities and potential future threats that could adversely affect these qualities. As part of the 2008 Management Plan for the MBNMS, a boundary change includes the undersea mountain as the Davidson Seamount Management Zone (DSMZ). The boundary change adds a 775 square mile area to the MBNMS, increasing the MBNMS area to 6,094 square miles.

Bubble gum coral (Paragorgia arborea) on the Davidson Seamount at 1,313 m.
(Credit: NOAA/MBARI 2006)
Pacific white-sided dolphins (Lagenorhynchus obliquidens) above Davidson Seamount.
(Credit: Chad King/SIMoN/MBNMS)
Fly-trap anemone (Family: Hormathiidae) on the slope of the Davidson Seamount at 1,874 m.
(Credit: NOAA/MBARI 2002)
Yellow sponge (Staurocalyptus sp. nov.), basket star (Gorgonocephalus sp.), white ruffle sponge (Farrea occa), and white-branched sponge (Asbestopluma sp. nov.) on the Davidson Seamount at 1,316 m.
(Credit: NOAA/MBARI 2006)


Davidson Seamount Management Zone (DSMZ):
Facts and Figures

Distance from Monterey
80 mi
70 nmi
129 km
Distance from San Simeon
75 mi
65 nmi
121 km
Seamount Length
26 mi
23 nmi
42 km
Seamount Width
8 mi
7 nmi
13 km
Seamount Height
7,480 ft
1.2 nmi
2,280 m
Seamount Summit (below sea surface)
4,101 ft
0.7 nmi
1,250 m
Deepest part of DSMZ
12,743 ft
2.1 nmi
3,884 m
Area of DSMZ
775 mi2
585 nmi2
2,007 km2
Area of MBNMS (including DSMZ)
6,094 mi2
4,601 nmi2
15,783 km2
MBNMS expanded to include DSMZ
November 2008
Number of Corals Identified at Designation
Number of Taxa Identified at Designation
Geologic History
last erupted ~9.8 million years ago

mi = statute mile

mi2 = square mile

nmi = nautical mile

nmi2 = square nautical mile

ft = feet

m = meter

km = kilometer

km2 = square kilometer

Coordinates of DSMZ
Point ID No.


Related Links
Visit the following web sites for more information on the Davidson Seamount:

To download the Davidson Seamount Management Zone Management Plan, see:
Davidson Seamount Management Zone Management Plan

To download the Davidson Seamount Management Zone Threats Assessment, see:
Technical Report: Threats Assessment

For a summary of deep-sea coral research, see:
Sanctuary Research at Davidson Seamount

For a summary of seamount characterization research, see:
Ecological Characterization & Habitat Modeling of the Davidson Seamount Fauna

To view the San Simeon Discovery Center video, see:
Video: Natural Wonders of Davidson Seamount

To view and download high resolution images, see:
SIMoN Photo Library (search by location: Davidson Seamount)

For a summary of the 2006 Expedition, see:
Davidson Seamount: Exploring Ancient Coral Gardens

For a summary of the 2002 Expedition, see:
Exploration: Davidson Seamount

For information on George Davidson, see:
George Davidson (1825-1911): Pioneer Scientist and Surveyor

For information on Seamounts and Banks in west coast sanctuaries, see:
SIMoN: Seamounts and Banks

To download the Technical Report Davidson Seamount: A National Treasure, see:
Technical Report: Davidson Seamount: A National Treaure

To view ONMS web story, see:
Biodiversity at Davidson Seamount: Exploring National Marine Sanctuaries


Reviewed: April 11, 2024
Web Site Owner: National Ocean Service

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