Area with a comparatively higher degree of naturalness as a result of the lack of, or low level of, human-induced disturbance or degradation.
Most ecosystems and habitats have examples with varying levels of naturalness, and the intent is that the more natural examples should be selected.
Case study: Salas y Gómez and Nazca Ridges
The Salas y Gómez and Nazca submarine ridges are two sequential chains of submarine mountains of volcanic origin located in the south-eastern Pacific Ocean. The area is a biological hotspot with one of the highest levels of marine biological endemism in the world (41.2% for fish and 46.3% for invertebrates).
The ridges and seamounts offer habitat to a number of long-lived species such as deep-water sharks, oreos, alfonsino and corals, as well as breeding, nursery and recruitment areas for swordfish and Chillean jack mackerel. They also offer aggregation opportunities for oceanic species such as blue sharks and bigeye thresher sharks, and refuelling stops for blue whales on their extensive migrations. Salas y Gómez ridge is located at the centre of the foraging area for leatherback sea turtles in the South Pacific Gyre.
Until now the area has been subject of minor, localised and sporadic human activities, and therefore a high degree of naturalness is expected for many seamounts in the area.
The Salas y Gómez and Nazca Ridges were described by participants at the Regional EBSA Workshop for the Eastern Tropical and Temperate Pacific, and designated as an EBSA at COP12 (Decision XII/22, October 2014).