Scientists discover about 5,000 new species in planned mining zone of Pacific Ocean

Researchers have discovered nearly 5,000 entirely new species that are rich in minerals Atlantic Ocean Ready to be mined by companies in the future.

Scientists found 5,578 different species According to a study published Thursday in the scientific journal Current Biology, the roughly 3,100-mile stretch between Hawaii and Mexico is in the Clarion-Clapperton zone. About 88-92% of species have never been seen before.

This zone, which receives little sunlight and has low food availability, is also home to potato-sized polymetallic nodules, potential mineral deposits for copper, nickel, cobalt, iron, manganese and other rare earth elements. There are resources.

Companies want to mine polymetallic nodules.

Trustees of the Natural History Museum London

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the deep-sea mining industry is hoping to harvest the area. ISA has awarded mining exploration contracts to 16 companies in the area. Mineral exploration in the CCZ began in the 1960s.

Environmentalists and biologists, looking to understand what might be at risk after companies start mining, began exploring the CCZ, said Muriel Rabon, the study’s lead author.

“We share this planet with all this amazing biodiversity, and we have a responsibility to understand it and protect it,” Rabon, a deep-sea ecologist at the Natural History Museum in London, told a press release. said in the release.

The researchers traveled to the Pacific Ocean on a research expedition. They collected specimens and looked at more than 100,000 records of creatures found in the CCZ during their expeditions.

The most common types of animals found in the underwater world are arthropods (invertebrates with segmented joints), insects, echinoderms (spiny invertebrates such as sea urchins), and sponges, including a carnivore. Is.

Ecologist Muriel Rabon with deep-sea samples.

Trustees of the Natural History Museum London

“There are some just remarkable species out there. Some sponges look like classic bath sponges, and some look like vases. They’re just beautiful,” Rabon said in a press release. said “One of my favorite glass sponges. They have these little spines, and under the microscope, they look like little chandeliers or little sculptures.”

With mining operations underway, the researchers said they hope there will be more studies on the region’s biodiversity.

“This is particularly important given that the CCZ is one of the few remaining areas of the global ocean where desert elevations persist,” the researchers wrote in the study. “Acoustic data and understanding are essential to shed light on this unique region and secure its future protection from human impacts.”

NOAA has noted that deep-sea mining could be harmful to polymetallic nodules in the area.

“Mining of these nodules can result in destruction of life and seafloor habitats in mined areas, which have been replicated in the eastern Pacific,” the agency said. wrote.

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