Human interference in the deep sea could already be outpacing our basic understanding of how it functions.
As a result, without increased research and an immediate review of deep ocean conservation measures, the creatures that live there face an uncertain future, Oxford University scientists have warned.
Vibrant, mysterious and often referred to as the ‘final frontier’, the deep sea floor is the largest habitat on Earth. This vast area, which lies below 200m and which accounts for 60% of the surface of the planet, is home to an array of creatures. However, very little is known about how it functions and, in particular, how populations of deep sea creatures are interconnected.
In a new review published in Molecular Ecology, scientists from the Department of Zoology at Oxford University have considered all knowledge published to date of deep sea invertebrates. The paper highlights the disparity between our basic knowledge of the ecology of deep sea animals and the growing impact of humans on the deep ocean.
Photo: NOAA Ocean Explorer/WIkimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 2.0)