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HomeNewsDeep-Sea Expedition Captures Images of Creatures in Pacific Mining Zone

Deep-Sea Expedition Captures Images of Creatures in Pacific Mining Zone

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Barbie sea pig
Source: Reddit

These wonders are just the first glimpse of the fantastical creatures discovered 16,400 feet (5,000 meters) below the surface of the Pacific Ocean in a pristine area designated as a mining site.

The 45-day expedition to the Clarion-Clipperton area, which ended on March 20, documented the biodiversity of the abyssal plain.

Sometimes, they have been seen/observed/known about before but have not been formally collected or described,” says Regen Drennan, a postdoctoral marine biologist at the Natural History Museum in London.

This trip is the second conducted by a British initiative called the Seabed Mining and Resilience to Experimental Impacts Project, or SMARTEX. The Natural History Museum, the National Oceanography Centre, the British Geological Survey, and other organizations participated.

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1 billion dry tons of polymetallic nodules in the Clarion-Clipperton area, containing more significant metal reserves than the world`s above-ground reserves combined.

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According to the Natural History Museum, scientists believe that many life forms living in this environment are unlikely to recover from the removal of the nodules and are calling for protective measures.

In international waters, the Clarion-Clipperton area is beyond the jurisdiction of any country. However, some countries, including the UK and France, have expressed caution, supporting a moratorium on deep-sea mining to protect marine ecosystems and conserve biodiversity.

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According to a June 2023 study published in the journal Current Biology, as many as 6,000 to 8,000 species may be waiting to be discovered in the Clarion-Clipperton region.

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Along with the transparent cucumber, this creature is a type of manatee belonging to the scientific family called Elpidiidae.

Drennan, who was not directly involved in the expedition, said Barbie pigs eat small amounts of debris that move from surface waters to the seafloor, which is important in recycling organic matter.

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“Many species in this family have evolved long, sturdy legs that allow them to walk on the seafloor, as well as elongated mouthparts to pick up and select the debris they eat,” Drennan said via email.

The expedition also captured images of elegant cup-shaped glass sponges, which are said to have the longest lifespan of any organism on the planet – up to 15,000 years, so much so that the expedition team It’s unknown how old the sponges they photographed were.

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Researchers estimate that it took these nodules about 1 million years to reach a size of several tens of millimeters.

The largest known nodules are about 20 centimeters in diameter, suggesting that these environments have remained largely unchanged on the ocean floor for tens of millions of years.

According to recent research, sediment plumes, potentially containing toxic compounds created by equipment on the seabed, can disperse, harming marine ecosystems. These scientists also warn that deep-sea mining could disrupt how carbon is stored in the ocean, contributing to the climate crisis.

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