Light and noise pollution from mingling operations could disrupt fragile ecosystems
Deep-sea communities live in relative silence, and in the dark. Studies have shown that deep-sea fish communicate at low sound frequencies26, and are sensitive to acoustic changes to sense food falls – the fall of organic matter that provides an important source of nutrients to the deep sea27. Whales rely on sound for communication and navigation, and when encountering increased noise, change their vocalisation patterns and behaviour, and move away to new areas.28 Studies show that baleen whales experience chronic stress when exposed to increased shipping noise.29 Low-frequency mining noise could travel far from the mining site, with one estimate suggesting that noise from the Nautilus operation near Papua New Guinea could travel up to 600km from the site.30 This could have negative impacts on deep diving whales in the area.
Mining will also introduce bright light into an environment that, but for bioluminescence, is constantly dark, impacting species that are adapted to these conditions, such as deep-sea vent shrimp, which have been shown to be blinded by the lights used by researchers.31
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Deep seabed mining could have serious impacts on the ocean environment and the future livelihoods and well being of coastal communities. An international, multi-sector approach to management and protection, similar to that under development by the International Seabed Authority under UNCLOS, is needed, if we are to ensure the health and sustainable use of our oceans.Related Quotes:
- Deep seabed mining could destroy valuable biodiversity that hasn't even been discovered yet
- Deep seabed environment is a critical ecosystem that needs to be protected
- Deep seabed mining can devastate fish stocks by disrupting the seamounts they depend on
- Seabed mining can have a significant impact on fragile ecosystems
- Light and noise pollution from mingling operations could disrupt fragile ecosystems
- Interest in seabed mining is growing but not enough attention is being paid to the environmental impacts
- Independent analysis shows deep seabed mining more environmentally friendly than land-based alternatives