continental shelf

Most ocean plants and animals live near the shore, on a narrow ribbon of seafloor called the continental shelf. These flat, shallow ledges gently slope from the shore to a steep drop called the continental slope. The shallow, sunlit waters of the continental shelf are flooded with nutrients, supporting an abundance of sea life. Many animals live here. Ninety percent of the world's fish are found along the continental shelf.

Image credits: main image, © AMNH/Sean Murtha.