Photo Credit: Photo | NOAA

Gigantic Underwater Mountain Discovered Off Coast of Vancouver Island

Potential diversity hotspot likely a home for countless native species

New ocean discoveries happen everyday – they’re just not usually this big

The earth’s oceans are largely undiscovered, and it’s far from just the “little things” we don’t yet know about.

Right off our coasts, scientists have just mapped out an entire mountain we previously had no idea existed.

Rivaling Mount Baker in size, it’s an entire ecosystem we’ve just started learning about.

Scientists aboard the US research vessel Okeanos Explorer discovered it.

They sailed 645 Kilometers off VanIsle’s coastline and came up with this image of a colossal underwater mountain range after beaming sonar into the deep waters.

A seamount 645 kilometres off BC’s coast ascends to 3,105 metres from the ocean floor, a third higher than previously thought. NOAA

At 3,105 meters off the ocean floor, it climbs a thousand meters higher than Whistler Mountains peak.

While researchers have yet to discover what kind of sea creatures live around it, ranges such as these are known to be biodiversity hotspots.

It’s likely vital for the survival of many local populations.

“High-resolution mapping is immensely valuable to scientists,” Sam Cuellar, the expedition’s coordinator, said in an email to Times Colonist. “It allows us to see the ‘big picture’ of what underlies 70 percent of our planet.”

Its discovery was largely unintentional. Researchers mapped the seamount while in transit from Seattle, Wash., to the Gulf of Alaska, where they will conduct a separate survey.

The mission — which can be tracked on multiple live streams — will give a better understanding of deep-sea geology and how such features are formed.

This will allow scientists to find other possible hazards like volcanic activity or earthquake-prone fault lines.