Researchers have discovered about 5,000 entirely new species in a vast, mineral-rich area of the Pacific that will be mined by industry in the future.
Scientists have discovered 5,578 different species The area is part of the Clarion Clipperton Zone, an area that stretches about 3,100 miles between Hawaii and Mexico, according to a study published Thursday in the journal Current Biology. About 88-92% of the species have never been seen before.
The area receives little sunlight and low food availability, but is also home to potato-sized polymetallic nodules that are potential mineral sources of copper, nickel, cobalt, iron, manganese and other rare earth elements. .
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the deep-sea mining industry wants to mine in the area. Deep-sea mining in the region is regulated by the International Seabed Authority, an intergovernmental body. ISA has awarded 16 companies contracts for mining exploration in the area. Mineral exploration at CCZ began in his 1960s.
Ecologists and biologists began exploring the CCZ to understand what would be at risk if companies started mining it, said Muriel Labon, lead author of the study.
“We share this planet and its incredible biodiversity, and we have a responsibility to understand and protect it,” Labone, a deep-sea ecologist at the Natural History Museum in London, said in a press release.
Researchers visited the Pacific Ocean on a research voyage. They collected samples and during the expedition he examined his more than 100,000 records of organisms found in the CCZ.
The most common types of animals found in underwater areas are arthropods (invertebrates with articulated joints), nematodes, echinoderms (spiny invertebrates such as sea urchins), and carnivores. Sponges including.
“There are some amazing species out there. Some sponges look like classic bath sponges, others look like vases. They’re really beautiful,” says Labone. said in a press release. “One of my favorites of his is a glass sponge, which has tiny spines that look like little chandeliers or little sculptures under a microscope.”
With mining operations looming, the researchers said they hoped to see more research into the region’s biodiversity.
“This is particularly important given that the CCZ remains one of the few regions of the world’s oceans that remains pristine and intact,” the researchers wrote in their paper. . “Sound data and understanding are essential to shedding light on this unique region and protecting it from human impacts in the future.”
NOAA said deep-sea mining of polymetallic nodules in the area could be damaging.
“The mining of these nodules could result in the destruction of organisms and subsea habitats in simulated mining areas in the eastern Pacific,” officials said. I have written.