Study: Deep Ignorance of the Deep Sea Threatens Ocean Biodiversity

A review finds that just 77 studies of the deep ocean have been conducted since 1970 as plastic pollution, mining and other human activities increasingly imperil marine life of which little is known.

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Ocean Biodiversity
This small translucent octopus was nicknamed Casper for his resemblance to the famous cartoon ghost. The animal was observed during a mission conducted in Hawaii by the Okeanos Explorer ship.AFP/Image Courtesy of NOAA

MATTHEW O. BERGER on OCEANS DEEPLY | 29 August 2017

The largest ecosystem on Earth – the deep sea – is one of the least studied even as climate change, plastic pollution and seabed mining threaten its biodiversity.

Those are the findings from a new review of studies on life in the deep sea, the area of the ocean below 650 feet (200 meters) that covers about two-thirds of the planet’s surface.

In reviewing all the papers published on the population genetics of deep ocean invertebrate life since 1970, researchers found that the number of studies – just 77 – is “minuscule in relation to the size of the deep sea.”

That lack of knowledge, they say, has made it difficult to draw broader conclusions about deep-sea biology, limiting the ability to craft effective management and conservation strategies despite what they call the “ever-increasing encroachment of human activity in the deep sea.””

Read the full article on Oceans Deeply

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