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Research Shows the Unseen Impact of Deep Sea Mining on Marine Life

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As the need for minerals and metals grows, people look to the deep sea as a new source. But this new kind of mining is worrying environmental experts and marine biologists. Studies show that sea creatures leave areas around mining sites, revealing the hidden environmental costs of getting valuable resources from the ocean floor.

© Thoth God of Knowledge from Boston, United States Wikimedia Commons

The Exodus of Marine Species

A study by Japan’s National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology study found a big drop in fish and shrimp near deep-sea mining areas. After a mining test on the Takuyo-Daigo Seamount, researchers noted a 43% drop in these sea creatures in affected areas and a 56% drop near the mining site. The sediment, a waste product of mining, is polluting the water and forcing sea life to leave, raising concerns about the long-term effects on the environment.

The Sediment Plume Threat

More information from Mongabay and Safe Water shows that sediment plumes from deep-sea mining can spread toxic substances far and wide in the ocean. These plumes can enter the food chain and affect sea life further away from the mining sites. This isn’t just a local problem – it’s a worldwide issue that needs immediate action.

Deep sea mining scheme
© G. Mannaerts Wikimedia Commons

Regulatory Challenges

The International Seabed Authority (ISA), connected to the UN, is trying to make rules for deep-sea mining. But it’s not easy to agree on the details. Nauru, a Pacific country, has triggered a rule in a UN sea law that gives the ISA two years to approve mining applications, making it urgent to set up detailed regulations.

Environmental Concerns

Almost 200 governments and environmental groups are calling for a temporary stop to deep-sea mining. France has even banned it completely. There’s a worldwide worry about the unknown effects of disturbing the deep-sea environment. Many are urging careful study and caution before moving ahead with mining plans.

YouTube video
Watch this deep-sea mining vehicle measure sediment plumes © Massachusetts Institute of Technology Youtube


The idea of getting valuable minerals from the ocean floor is tempting. However, the departure of sea life from mining areas and the spread of sediment pollution are clear warnings. We need to be careful. The hidden effects on sea life are a quiet alarm that we can’t ignore. The future of deep-sea mining will be shaped by how well we can balance the promise of new wealth with the need to protect our oceans.

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Latest posts by Cayla de Souza, M.Sc. Ocean Sciences & Marine Biology (see all)

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