Researchers have warned that while the onset of deep sea mining is just around the corner, the effect of these activities on a host of creatures, including whales, is unknown.
The warning comes in the wake of the news that deep seabed mining in international waters is about to start later this year.
The warnings come from a research paper published in the journal “Frontiers in Marine Science” and is the work of scientists from the University of Exeter and Greenpeace Research Laboratories. The work focused on cetaceans and found information about the potential impact on them is severely lacking.
Commenting on the finds and research, the University of Exeter’s Dr. Kirsten Thompson stated:
“Like many animals, cetaceans are already facing multiple stressors including climate change. 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. We searched for data on how much noise such mining would cause, but no published assessment is available. We know noise pollution in the ocean is already a problem for cetaceans and introducing another industry that is expected to operate 24/7 would inevitably add to existing anthropogenic noise were deep seabed mining to go ahead. Despite this lack of information, it appears industrial-scale mining could soon begin in one of the planet’s few remaining undisturbed environments.”
While Dr. Solène Derville from Oregon State University said:
“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.”
You can find the original research paper here.