Whale warning as clock ticks towards deep-sea mining
Published:26 Feb.2023    Source:ScienceDaily
In a new paper, scientists from the University of Exeter and Greenpeace Research Laboratories say that deep seabed mining could be a "significant risk to ocean ecosystems," with "long lasting and irreversible" effects. The study focuses on cetaceans (mammals such as whales, dolphins and porpoises) and says urgent research is needed to assess potential impacts.
"Like many animals, cetaceans are already facing multiple stressors including climate change," said Dr Kirsten Thompson, of the University of Exeter. " But very little research has examined the impact that deep-sea minerals extraction would have on cetaceans. "Cetaceans are highly sensitive to sound, so noise from mining is a particular concern." The sounds expected to be produced by mining operations, including from remotely operated vehicles on the seafloor, are likely to overlap with the frequencies at which cetaceans communicate, the researchers stress.
Seamounts are now known as important offshore habitats for some cetacean populations that forage or regroup around them, but we still lack basic knowledge of these fragile ecosystems. In this context, it is very hard to assess the magnitude of the impacts of seamount seabed mining on the animals that live and feed around these structures."