The depths of our oceans hide a unique living world that we barely understand – but these mysteries are already under threat from a controversial new industry: deep sea mining.
by Louisa Casson / Greenpeace.org
Lion’s Mane Jellyfish, a deep sea creatures found in the Arctic. © Alexander Semenov
A handful of companies and governments are planning to send monster machines deep beneath the waves, disrupting sensitive and unique habitats to extract metals and minerals. While licences have been granted to explore for deep sea mining in over a million square kilometres of our global oceans, no deep sea mining is happening – yet.
Sending gigantic mining machines designed to bulldoze and churn up the seabed is clearly a very bad idea. Want to know how bad? Here’s five reasons why deep sea mining will only get our planet into deep trouble.
Reason 1: Very bad news for wildlife
Scientists are warning that plundering the seafloor with monster machines risks inevitable, severe and irreversible environmental damage to our oceans and marine life. You only have to look at some of the names of recent research papers: ‘Deep-Sea Mining with No Net Loss of Biodiversity – An Impossible Aim’.
In the deep sea, we find underwater mountains that are oases for sea creatures, ancient coral reefs and sharks that can live for hundreds of years. These are among the longest living creatures on Earth, which makes them particularly vulnerable to physical disturbance because of their slow growth rates. Researchers estimate that harm to wildlife from mining “is likely to last forever on human timescales”.