Farallon Escarpment

black coral and spot prawn
Close-up of a black coral (Bathypathes sp.) and a spot prawn (Pandalus platyceros) on a muddy outcrop along the Farallon Escarpment.

The Farallon Escarpment is the portion of the continental slope just west of the Farallon Islands and ranges in depth from 180 to over 2000 meters in depth. Surveys in 2012 and 2016 revealed extensively dissected submarine canyons and gullies, which stretch from the shelf break (approximately 150 m depth) down to the deep basin. In the heads of canyons, slumping and ocean currents deposit fine sands and muds.  There is hard substrate that is covered in a layer of fine silt and supports many infaunal benthic invertebrates. Previous interpretations of the geology of this area suggested primarily soft substrate. This area has many sedimentary rock outcrops. Taxonomic studies of the corals collected during these ROV dives, include Acanthogorgia sp., Parastenella ramosa, Bathypathes sp.

A technical report (PDF, 3Mb), summarizing the characterization of these this area can be found at this link. Minimum count and distribution data are available on line at the Essential Fish Habitat Data Catalog

View a video of this special underwater place.