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.

Definition: a ribbon of seafloor that stretches from
the shore into the sea
Found: around the edges of Earth's continents
Habitats: stretches of mud, undersea canyons, and rocks
Conditions: rich in nutrients and sunlight
Depth: from 300 to 650 feet, down to where the continental slope begins

Image credits: main image, Sean Murtha.